By: Natasha Paleau, University of Maryland Public Health Graduate Student
Public health is, essentially, the pursuit and protection of health on a communal or societal level. It is law, research, education, medicine, behavior, and more. It is practiced by doctors, nurses, teachers, researchers, and government officials.
It is also practiced by you.
When you wash your hands, cover your cough, go to the doctor, or properly dispose of your waste, you are practicing public health. By doing these things, you are protecting your own health, and you’re also protecting the health of those around you.
The choices you make every day can have an impact on the health of your community, just as the community or environment where you live can influence your personal health.
Public health is a movement to improve our collective health. We all have the opportunity and the responsibility to get involved, and to get healthy.
Since this week is National Public Health Week, the University of Maryland School of Public Health has made it easy for us to get involved. Several events took place on campus this week that highlighted important issues in public health.
The campus was honored to have Rear Admiral Penelope Slade-Sawyer, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at our campus to discuss the National Prevention Strategy as well as Healthy People 2020.
The Public Health Garden held a workshop on the health benefits of gardening. The Herschel S. Horowitz Center for Health Literacy and the University Health Center held a ‘Test Your Health Literacy’ event, where people could learn more about health and healthcare. An American Red Cross blood drive was held in the School of Public Health, and the Public Health Engaging and Representing Student Organization (PHEAR) promoted healthy messages and education to students in the Stamp.
Public health is just as important now as it’s ever been.
While our country has made great strides towards attaining optimal health for all people, there’s still a lot of work to be done. This need is what motivates students, like me, to pursue public health as a field of study.
Public health professionals work at preventing and alleviating health disparities, disease, and disabilities, to improve our health system and health outcomes for all people. But it’s also up to individuals to be proactive about their own health, to take care of themselves and each other.
The UMCP campus supports public health all year round, through various initiatives and departments. The programs and services we have are directly aligned with the National Public Health Week themes of focus identified by the American Association of Public Health:
- Active living and healthy eating
- Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs
- Reproductive and Sexual Health
- Mental and Emotional Wellbeing
Through the Health Center, Campus Recreation Services, the Wellness Initiative, the School of Public Health, and more, students at Maryland have many opportunities to improve their personal health and the health of their community by taking advantage of the services offered in the areas above.
Share with us.
How will you take action to promote public health this week, and beyond?