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Public Health system sets national goals
Health advice
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Last week was Public Health Week and like last year, the American Public Health Association focused on promoting good health in our communities via a wide range of sectors.
The idea is to create a ripple effect from one neighborhood to the next across the United States. With a theme of  “A Healthier America: One Community at a Time,”  APHA hopes to encourage counties and municipalities to create parks, healthcare options that promote vaccinations and preventive health education as well as a variety of safety programs that cover all ages from infants to the elderly.
The only way to become a healthier nation is to create healthier communities and public health is taking this opportunity to encourage our community -- and others -- to promote health and prevent disease. If every American would simply implement healthy practices such as improving their nutrition, getting regular exercise and eliminating any use of tobacco it ripple from coast to coast and reach the goal of building a healthier America.
For more than a decade, APHA has organized National Public Health Week to highlight issues important to improve the health of communities and  their citizens across the country. The focus this year was on the role communities need to play in building a healthier America and in encouraging meaningful lifestyle changes that everyone can make to improve their health.
On April 6, Assistant Secretary for Health Howard Koh, MD, MPH, said, “The options for action are endless. In the crucial area of obesity prevention, for example,  families can make more time to be physically active together, schools can provide better health education and food options, community members can help neighborhoods be more friendly to pedestrians and community leaders can establish better policies for access to nutritious foods and neighborhood parks and facilities.”
Koh oversees the Office of Public Health and Science for Department of Health and Human Services.
The Public Health System is a network of organizations that work to assure conditions in which people can be healthy. Its overarching goals are to identify, advise and focus attention on high priority issues and to assist and assure a robust and financially sustainable public health system.
The oldest, largest and most diverse organization of public health professionals in the world, APHA and has worked to improve public health since 1872. While aiming to protect  Americans and their communities from health threats, the association also strives to provide community-based health promotion and disease prevention activities.  Another important goal is to make sure preventive health services are universally accessible in the United States.
After saying that population-based services that improve health and reforming health care coverage and delivery were two important priorities in public health, APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin added, “Achieving individual health is a complex process which is affected by how we are made, what we do and the environment in which we live. Medical care is important, but it can only do so much. To truly achieve wellness and prevent disease we need to strive to create healthy people in healthy communities.”
Give some thought to ways you can create a healthier lifestyle for your family and then encourage friends, co-workers and neighbors to do the same.  Share ideas and start the ripple in Liberty County. You win, they win, Liberty County wins and Georgia wins.

Ratcliffe is a consultant to the Coastal Health District. You can call her at 876-6399.
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