Healthy Lives through Action and Science
BY OLIVIA SPIRITO; EDITED BY BERNICE BORN
(Archived story. Original version is here.)
This year, APHA will focus on six public health topics: (1) healthy communities, (2) violence prevention, (3) rural health, (4) technology and public health, (5) climate change, and (6) global health. Four of these themes touch on WiRED International’s mission to bring free health learning education to underserved communities worldwide.
WiRED believes that the health of individuals is greatly impacted by the health of their communities. Impoverished areas have fewer opportunities to improve the quality of their health (no parks, playgrounds, safe drinking water or clean air). APHA believes that public policy can, for example, encourage more medical and scientific research, shrink the rates of preventable deaths through vaccinations, sanitation, removing harmful substances from the air and drinking water and other means. These factors are essential in creating strong and healthy communities.
New technologies are helping revolutionize public health. For instance, health-tracking programs, the mapping of infectious diseases and severe health risks, state-of-the-art laboratories to detect disease outbreaks and social media to educate local communities on health are becoming more widely available. Technology allows even distant populations to be more accessible than ever. For instance, WiRED’s training tools don’t require power or Internet access, and so WiRED can deliver health learning programs to the Peruvian Amazon, inner cities and rural areas of Africa and distant regions of Eurasia.
Climate change increasingly harms the quality of community health. The changing environment can drastically affect how people live when risks of fires, flooding, mudslides, food insecurity and vector-borne diseases threaten millions. Scientific facts should be taken seriously, as they chart the consequences of warming air and oceans, and such data should factor into policy decisions by lawmakers, business interests and human assistance organizations.
Global health is directly associated with public health. A disease that begins in one country can spread rapidly around the world. Global health concerns can affect population migration, global politics and conflicts. Food production, water usage and land management are all impacted, and they are all interrelated.
The concept of One Health teaches us that humans, animals and the environment are interdependent, and the health of one affects the health of the others. National Public Health Week presents us with an opportunity to discuss the complex interrelationship of health, the environment and an array of political issues that are now in a rapid state of change.
About the American Public Health Association
APHA is a national organization that addresses a variety of topics including environmental and personal health, funding for health programs, chronic and infectious diseases and pollution control. The health topics APHA promotes are intended to help people live healthier lives in the U.S. and abroad.
The organization states that it “champions the health of all people and all communities,” adding that it is “the only organization that influences federal policy, has a nearly 150-year perspective and brings together members from all fields of public health.”
For some years, WiRED has focused on educating low-resource communities on rheumatic heart disease (RHD), a preventable heart condition that starts with strep throat. WiRED created an animated video (posted on YouTube) that highlights this chronic heart condition. In the space of a few minutes, our video describes RHD and explains why it is so serious, why it prevails in underserved communities and why we need to address it. The animation was chosen to be shown at the 2017 Global Public Health Film Festival, an event sponsored by APHA.
You can download the modules mentioned in this story, and all 400+ of WiRED’s health modules, through WiRED’s Health Module Access Program (HealthMAP) by clicking here. This easy-to-use free program will enable you to create your own customized collection of health learning modules. You can learn more about HealthMAP through WiRED’s animation.