National Public Health Week is April 4-10, 2016!
What is National Public Health Week, you ask? National Public Health Week, developed by the American Public Health Association (APHA) was designed to be a time for commmunities across the country to get involved in public health.
The APHA encourages organizations to use this week to focus on health issues that are currently plaguing their community as well as to come together to focus on health issues nationwide.
Public health in the U.S. is a pretty big deal, despite the fact the public health policies tend to fly under the radar. Most of us in the general public might assume that public health is not as big of an issue in a first-world country like the U.S.
However, this year the APHA used National Public Health Week to publicize some facts and stats about public health in the U.S. that prove that we still have a lot of work on the topic of public health.
1. The Relationship Between Economic Mobility and Better Health
Organizations like the CDC and Gallup-Healthaways Well-Being Index have done a deep-dive into the correlations between individuals' health and their position above or below the poverty line.
These organizations have found that individuals living below the poverty line are at least 4% more likely to smoke cigarettes, suffer from obesity, and/or suffer from asthma. They also found that those living at or below the poverty line were 15% more likely to be diagnosed with depression.
The CDC has reported that only about 67% of inidividuals living at or below the poverty line have a usual source of healthcare, versus 81% of individuals not living at or below the poverty line.
The CDC has done further research on another topic that correlates poverty and poor health: HIV rates. In a study conducted by the CDC, they found that HIV rates in areas of poverty in the US. exceeded the rates used to identify a generalized HIV epidemic. They also found that those HIV rates rivaled rates in countries that are considered "third-world": Haiti, Burundi, Euthiopia, and Angola.
Data Sources: NHBS-HET-1 2006−2007 and UNAIDS HIV Estimates 2007.1
"The 2.1% HIV prevalence rate found in urban poverty areas in the U.S. exceeded the 1% cut-off that defines a generalized HIV epidemic and is similar to the rates found in several low-income countries that have generalized HIV epidemics" (Communities in Crisis: Is There a Generalized HIV Epidemic in Impoverished Urban Areas of the United States?).
We can see that there are some pretty clear lines drawn between the poverty line and poor health. But what can we do about it? The APHA has a few potential policies that they say could decrease some of those percentage points. One such policy would be to require paid sick leave and family leave for all workers.
Many individuals who live at or below the poverty line work hourly wage jobs that do not offer sick days, and those individuals can't afford to miss a day of work to go to the doctor. A policy such as the one suggested above offers a solution to this issue.
If this is something you believe should become a policy, you can offer your support by signing a petition created by the APHA here.
2. Social Justice & Health
One would hope that social injustice would not extend into the realm of healthcare. After all, every individual should have access to healthcare as a human right, right? Unfortunately, research continues to show inequalities based on access to healthcare and other health-related inequalities.
The NPHW website cites the following examples of inequalities caused by social injustice:
- Health care: More than 30 percent of direct medical costs faced by blacks, Hispanics and Asian-Americans can be tied to health inequities. Because of inequitable access to care and other health-promoting resources, these populations are often sicker when they do find a source of care and incur higher medical costs. That 30 percent translates to more than $230 billion over a four-year period. In addition, studies have shown that clinicians tend to have more negative attitudes toward people of color, and unconscious racial bias among clinicians has been shown to lead to poorer communication and lower quality of care.
- Criminal justice – Thirty years of “tough on crime” and “war on drugs” public policies have resulted in mass incarceration of primarily black and Hispanic males. This discrimination and inequity undermines the social and community fabric that is so vital to public health, narrowing opportunity, disrupting families and social cohesion, and preventing civic participation.
- Voting rights. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of activities that make it harder for people to exercise their right to vote, especially in communities of color. Since 2010, about half of the states have passed new laws making it more difficult for voters to access the ballot box.
Share your support of health equity by working in your community and roganization to educate others and eradicate any and all forms of racism and social injustice. Also share your feelings about voter restrictions and any other policies that may infringe on others' rights with the elected officials in your area.
3. Provide Quality Health Care for Everyone
Nearly 18 million Americans have received health insurance since the Affordable Care Act was put in place in 2010. However, recent numbers by Gallup show that about one in ten Americans still needs health insurance.
Data shows that about seventy-five percent of health care costs to the U.S. government are created by preventable health issues. Some of these include obesity, cigarette usage, and unsafe sex habits. These health issues costs could be sgnificantly decreased by individuals receiving preventive care and health education by a primary care provider (regular doctor). However, an inidividual that does not have insurance will most likely not regularly visit a primary care provider.
There are a few ways that you can support an increase of the number of insured Americans and decrease the preventable health care costs the U.S. incurs. The easiest way to do this is to support your local community health center.
For example, Apicha CHC not only provides affordable preventive services to those who would not normally be able to afford it through a sliding scale payment option, but we also help individuals apply for and recieve health insurance.
You can also share your support by doing the following things:
- Tell Congress to support the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act and expand access to quality care at the federal, state and local levels.
- Tell Congress to fully fund the Prevention and Public Health Fund so that we can continue changing our health system from one that focuses on treating the sick to one that focuses on keeping people healthy.
How Can You Support Public Health?
Make sure your voice is heard! If you feel strongly about any of the issues outlined above, or any of the other issues from the National Public Health Week facts list, make sure your elected officials know about it! There are many policies currently on the table that could help relieve some of these public health issues that the U.S. is currently facing. Your voice may be just the push needed to enable some changes!
Looking to help a little closer to home? You can help community health centers like Apicha CHC. There are numerous ways to help your local community health center, and many of them do not require a monetary committment from you.
- Spread the Word: One way is to simply go to them for your primary care (and more) health care needs. If you've received healthcare services from an Apicha CHC provider and had a good experience, tell your friends and write a review!
- Become an Advocate: If you've had a great experience at our health center, or you would just like to support what we do, become an advocate. You can do this by following our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages and sharing the content that you like! Also make sure you are subscribed to our blog updates and our monthly email newsletter! You can also come visit our booth at events like the Brooklyn and Queens Pride Parades and other health events in the area. Make sure you bring your friends!
- Volunteer: Apicha CHC currently does not have any volunteer opportunities, but the community health center in your area might! Check their website for a volunteer tab, or check upcoming events for calls for volunteers. Sometimes all an organization needs is a little bit of your time!
- Donate: Of course, if you have a few extra dollars and really like what we do at Apicha Community Health Center, we would be happy to accept a donation of any size on our donation page!
Are you an individual looking for quality, non-judgmental healthcare? Request an appointment with Apicha Community Health Center today!