Generation Public Health

Welcome to Generation Public Health! This is a movement created by the American Public Health Association to keep people informed on public health disparities within our country as well as working towards ridding our communities of these disparities. So far, over 5,000 people have signed the pledge to become part of generation public health. I know we all like to think that we are generally healthy people, however we also (if you’re a University of Maryland student) live in a sort of bubble where we have easy access to a gym, healthy food options. In reality, America is actually only the 34th in life expectancy in the world. That means that the United States has a much lower life expectancy than many other high-income nations.

Generation Public Health is working towards improving “the social and environmental factors that affect everyone’s health and limit the ability for many people to make healthy choices” (APA). Our country has a lot of health disparities that make these improvisations so difficult. We, unfortunately, live in a nation where living in a low income neighborhood means you could have a life expectancy that is 15% lower than someone of you same age, weight, and race living in a high income community. We want to create safer communities that provide healthy food options, available transportation, health education, safe places for children to play, healthy environment, affordable health care and many more options. Working together, hopefully we can decrease disparities and make our nation a healthier, happier one. If you’re interested in taking the pledge and joining Generation Public Health click here 


Global Violence

When one thinks of public health issues, the mind instantly goes to the more obvious subjects such as preventing the spread of disease or working decrease maternal mortality, but an ever increasing problem in the field of public health is violence. Violence was introduced as a public health concern in the 1980s and is one of the leading causes of death between 15-44 year olds. Around 90% of these violence induced deaths occur in low and middle income countries, and the majority of these deaths occur in the poorest communities within these countries.

The reach of violence is far further than death and physical injury, violence can lead to extreme cases of depression, PTSD, higher risk of drug or alcohol misuse. Additionally, WHO studies have shown that those who have experienced violence in their lives may be at a higher risk for heart disease and cancer. Homicide rates in the United States was up 17% and is an even larger problem in low income, developing nations.

Luckily, violence is incredibly preventable and many nations, including America, are working hard at creating violence prevention programs to try and spread education and awareness to decrease the occurrences of violence.  At our very own University of Maryland Family Science department there is research being done on the impacts of community violence, if you’re interested feel free to look more into it here. The CDC’s steps to approaching violence prevention can be located here.

Health Communication

According to François Fénelon: “the more you say, the less people remember”. This is especially true when it comes to health communication. Unfortunately, we live in a world where people don’t necessarily want to spend the time to sit down and read a medical journal, textbook, or even sometimes a full article in order to learn more about their health and well being, this is what makes health communication such a challenge for public health workers. This branch of public health was introduced in 2010 and is used to try and help the population both change and learn more about health behaviors and lifestyle.

There are many different varieties of  that fall under the title of health communication including: interventions, health literacy, social media use, booklets, flyers, bookmarks, marketing, and more. According to the CDC, health communication can be both verbal and non-verbal and should include these steps for effective strategic planning:

  • Review background information to define the problem (What’s out there?)
  • Set communication objectives (What do we want to accomplish?)
  • Analyze and segment target audiences (Who do we want to reach?)
  • Develop and pretest message concepts (What do we want to say?)
  • Select communication channels (Where do we want to say it?)
  • Select, create and pretest messages and products (How do we want to say it?)
  • Develop promotion plan/production (How do we get it used?)
  • Implement communication strategies and conduct process evaluation (Getting it out there)
  • Conduct outcome and impact evaluation (How well did we do?)

Even here in Maryland we are working towards making the community more knowledgeable and involved in health and well being. I was lucky enough to attend a small conference with Maryland Responds: Medical Reserve Corps where I learned a lot about how to use social media to help teach the public about public health concerns and changes in the community as well as introduce them on ways to get involved in the community. Maryland Responds works with volunteers in emergency situations as and trains people in how to deal with these same emergent conditions. If your’re interested in learning more about health communication, click on any of the links provided in the post, or here.

Welcome To Public Health

What is health? This is a question anyone who has ever taken a class about public health will recognize; the very first question anyone interested in the world of public or community health studies, and maybe gets a little sick of answering. Then there is the question every parent, friend, and family member asks anyone interested in the public health field: what is public health? According to the American Public Health Association, “Public health promotes and protects the health of people and the communities where they live, learn, work and play” which is still a pretty vague answer. Often when people think of public health problems, they immediately jump to preventative care in terms of illness or disease. This is definitely an important part of public health, but not the only part.

Public health is a broad, up and coming field with five core focuses: environmental health, epidemiology, biostatistics, health administration, and health education. While in scholars we focus on public health in a global sense, public health issues are also occurring right in our backyards. There are many issues that occur every day around us that we don’t think of as public health problems such as: violence, nutrition, smoking, and even graduation rates. As mentioned earlier (and again I apologize if you are sick of listing of the million different health definitions) just because someone appears physically healthy, does not mean that they are living in a state of social, mental, or even spiritual well being.

Making sure our communities maintain that physical, mental, social, and spiritual  well being is a big part of public health. Working with global communities and cultures to improve the health of their minds and bodies as well, is also a very large part of public health. While the main public health issues may differ between countries, ultimately the goal is to make the world a place where men and women can be considered equal, parents don’t have to worry about not have access to hospitals for their families, everyone who wants to has the opportunity to attend school, schools can be violence free, and of course so many other goals. Hopefully we can achieve these goals, or at the least you can now explain to your parents what public health is. For more information about fields of public health click here.


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