Get Healthy: Public health works to prevent illness, promote health | NevadaAppeal.com

Get Healthy: Public health works to prevent illness, promote health

Pam Graber
For the Nevada Appeal

Q: What is public health and why would I want to know about it?

A: Simply put, public health protects and improves the health of the community through education and promotion of healthy lifestyles, similar to how a doctor promotes health and wellness for the individual. With public health, the entire community, rather than the person, is the patient. Just as it is important to know about our personal health, it is important to know about our community’s health.

Public health means community wellness and preventing large-scale health disasters. This can translate to keeping our water pure; our restaurant food untainted; our air clean; our soil free of hazardous materials; our summer mosquitoes controlled; our pets rabies-free; our public immunized; our babies well-checked; our town disaster-prepared… It goes on and on.

Some mistake public health for a form of socialized medicine, which is inaccurate. Socialized medicine implies government-run access to primary care. Public health is not in the business of primary care. Rather, the focus is on prevention: Screening, inspecting, educating, vaccinating and testing to keep health disasters from occurring. An example is the recent H1N1 vaccination campaign which effectively protected thousands of local residents.

Your local public health department, Carson City Health and Human Services, provides a wide array of services and programs that keep our community healthy.

• Pam Graber is public information officer for Carson City Health and Human Services. Send questions on public health to PGraber@ci.carson-city.nv.us.