Developing Community and Public Health Capacity for Change

March Health Awareness Campaigns

National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
Brain Injury Awareness Month
National Kidney Cancer Awareness Month
Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month
National Myeloma Awareness Month
National Nutrition Month
National Endometriosis Month
Workplace Eye Wellness Month
National Save Your Vision Month
Hemophilia Month
National Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness Month
American Red Cross Month
Learning Disabilities Awareness Month
National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month
National Eye Donor Month
National Poison Prevention Month
National Professional Social Work Month
Save Your Vision Month
For those in community or public health, the topics in this article will be nothing new-but as busy professionals ourselves, we often find it helpful to be reminded of the basic premises of our chosen fields. It’s so easy in our hectic-and very important-drive to complete work tasks that we lose sight of those core values for which we strive.
There are a growing number of evidence-based interventions for use by community and public health professionals to promote health and prevent disease. [Leeman, Calancie, et al: 2015] These practices have the potential to improve environments, behaviors, and health outcomes in our communities. In order to adopt these practices, however, public health agencies and community partners often need additional tools, strategies, and training to enhance their capacity to improve health outcomes.

The most effective prevention strategies actively engage the communities they are intended to serve. Effective health promotion and health-enhancing social change require communities to identify, plan, channel resources, and take action. The concept that a community is the solution to its own problems is not new. There is considerable support for designing community-based interventions to improve the health behaviors and overall health status of community members. According to Sotomayor, Pawlik, and Dominguez in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, “These community-based interventions are important because health disparities and the high rate of chronic diseases in minority populations, particularly among those who are poor and lack access to community resources, are not likely to be prevented without them.” [Sotomayor, Pawlik, and Dominguez: 2007]

The U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion’s Healthy People 2020 strives to

Identify nationwide health improvement priorities.
Increase public awareness and understanding of the determinants of health, disease, and disability and the opportunities for progress.
Provide measurable objectives and goals that are applicable at the national, State, and local levels.
Engage multiple sectors to take actions to strengthen policies and improve practices that are driven by the best available evidence and knowledge.
Identify critical research, evaluation, and data collection needs.
Many health prevention and promotion consultants stress the importance that local leaders play in building community health. The Healthy People 2020 toolkit Identifying & Engaging Community Partners, answers the question “How Do You Define Meaningful Citizen Participation?” in this way:
Power to make decisions and affect outcomes
Citizen driven; from the community up, not top down
Proactive, not reactive
Encourages and facilitates broad community involvement
Inclusive, not exclusive; accessible to all
Balanced representation in the participation process; not just major “partners”
Consensus-oriented decision making Compromise; give and take
Opportunities for involvement in all levels of activity, which include creating a vision, planning, prioritizing, deciding, evaluating [ODPHP: 2010]
Building strong relationships with necessary community partners can be time consuming. Facilitating meetings to allow the meaningful participation outlined above requires a particular, practiced set of skills. Here’s where a community health consultant could be extremely valuable. Each community health consultant is different, of course, but in general he or she will have significant experience with the following tasks:
Developing health education and promotion programs, such as school or community presentations, workshops, trainings, etc.
Writing and formatting health education materials, such as reports, bulletins, and visual aids, to address public health concerns.
Developing working relationships with agencies and organizations interested in public health.
Designing and conducting evaluations to assess the quality and performance of health communication and education programs.
Collaborating with community groups and public health officials to identify community health needs and the availability of services needed.
Writing press releases and public service announcements, conducting media campaigns, or maintaining program-related Web sites.
Developing grant proposals to obtain funding for health education programs and related work.

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How A Complete Body Health Check Up Can Uncover Hidden Diseases

Dalai Lama: “Man surprised me most about humanity. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health… ”

You get your car tuned-up every year. Why wouldn’t you get an annual medical check-up as well? An annual health check-up or periodic health check is useful as it can help to detect and identify diseases or the warning signs of an impending disease very early. This makes treatment a lot more effective, less expensive and less invasive. In addition to detecting such diseases before a patient turns seriously ill, such periodic check ups also give you a detailed update on various health parameters like cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, blood pressure and body weight. This helps to gauge your overall health and it enables health care providers to assess health risks and advise you on lifestyle on dietary measures to counter such risks.

Benefits of an annual health check up

There are several advantages of a regular complete body health check up with a doctor. One of the most important benefits is the prevention of disease. Preventive health checks are important especially for individuals with risk factors for different health conditions. A master health check up can also aid in the early detection and treatment of a health problem, which is valuable especially in cases of cancer. The examinations and laboratory tests that will be done during a health check up vary depending on an individual’s age, sex, family history, and lifestyle. Health check ups also promote better patient-doctor relationships and allow the doctor to promote healthy habits through patient education.

Composition of a regular health check-up

Besides an overall physical examination, which includes the eyes and teeth, a standard health check up is meant to assess the functioning of the heart, lungs, digestive system, liver, kidneys and, immune system status. Sometimes certain cancer-specific tests like PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) for men and mammography and some gynecological examinations in women are also included.

A body health check up primarily comprise pathology (blood and urine), imaging (x-ray and ultra-sonography), lungs function test and cardiac stress test. These tests should ideally be carried out in an accredited laboratory or a hospital which is equipped with the best diagnostic tools. It is very important that the results of these tests be interpreted and examined by qualified physicians.

Common investigations in a regular health check up

A regular health check up will comprise of the following investigations:

1. General Physical Examination (body weight, blood pressure, pulse rate, etc.)

2. Laboratory investigations:

a) Complete Haemogram: It is a panel of tests to examine different components of blood and used as broad screening test for such disorders as anemia, infection, and many other diseases.

b) Lipid Profile: Used to assess the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.

c) Liver Function Test: Used to assess the functioning of the liver or diagnose liver diseases.

d) Kidney Function Test: Used to evaluate how well the kidneys are functioning.

e) Blood Sugar: Used to measure blood glucose for checking pre-diabetes and diabetes.

f) Chest X-ray: Used to examine the chest and the organs and structures located in the chest.

g) ECG/Treadmill Test: Used as a diagnostic tool to measure the rate and regularity of heartbeats and for assessing cardiac stress.

h) Ultrasonography of the abdomen: Diagnostic imaging technique used for visualizing organs and structures in the abdomen including the liver, gall bladder, spleen, pancreas and the kidneys.

i) Urine Routine Examination: Used for general evaluation of health, metabolic or systematic diseases.

Getting the right type of body health check up is important and while considering it, certain factors like age, lifestyle, family history, and risks should be taken into account. Regular health examinations and tests help detect problems before they start. Opting for a right health check up, screenings, and treatments means one is taking steps to help one live longer and healthier life.

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