A shout-out for public health

It’s National Public Health Week

Our students are doing fabulous things this week. Each day they have focused on different populations (e.g., mothers and children), places (rural health) and issues. I had a great time Monday, along with our Student Government leaders, handing out LocoPops to Gillings School students. Tonight, students will have their own version of TedX talks, called GillingsX, to showcase some of their amazing fieldwork.

It’s unfortunate that public health remains invisible for millions of people. That’s not a healthy situation, especially when public health is fighting for resources with many other priorities. Building health is a far better investment than building walls, but that’s not what our president seems to think. In fact, it’s time for him to visit some of our country’s most fabulous public health departments, don’t you think? It’s hard to value what you don’t know.

New data back-up lack of familiarity with public health

A new report from the de Beaumont Foundation, now headed by a Gillings alumnus, Brian C. Castrucci, DrPH, highlights how much Americans need to learn about public health and the causes of good and bad health.

Nearly 90% of Americans believe that diet and exercise play the greatest role in influencing their health, and only 44% say that where one lives is an important factor, according to a national survey released today by the de Beaumont Foundation. The survey also reveals that awareness of health departments is low, and people believe that doctors, schools, police, and firefighters have a greater impact on a community’s health. Researchers have learned that where one lives is a potent predictor of health status.

Let’s hear it for public health people! They’re some of our most important unsung heroes.

The views expressed in this blog are Barbara Rimer’s alone and do not represent the views and policies of The University of North Carolina or the Gillings School.

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