At present, Covid-19 has proven to be one of the most significant public health challenges that we are dealing with. It has severely affected every aspect of our lives and overwhelmed healthcare workers worldwide.
However, this isn’t the only significant public health concern that we face today. Some are far older than the deadly virus and have been affecting our lives continuously over decades.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is essential as it keeps numerous acute and chronic medical conditions at bay. It can also be suitable for our self-image. While we all can do multiple things to improve our personal health, some issues are too large and require more awareness, interventions, and stringent regulations to deal with. Here’s where public health officials, social workers, healthcare staff, and government bodies come into the picture.
Skilled and public health administrators and practitioners play a vital role in spreading awareness about public health issues and in helping people live healthy lives. Given the current circumstances, there has been an increase in demand for trained healthcare professionals in clinical and administrative roles. Thus, many virtual universities now also offer online MPA (Master’s in Public Administration) and other healthcare-related degrees to cater to this demand. These programs are a fitting choice given that conventional, on-campus education isn’t a viable option for at least a few months.
With that said, here are some of the most common public health concerns that still plague our modern society in the present time.
Viral infections and public hygiene
To be honest, personal and public hygiene goes hand-in-hand. Suppose individuals are sloppy with taking measures to improve cleanliness and sanitation on a personal level. In that case, they are less likely to be mindful in the public sphere as well – case in point, the current pandemic.
In a nutshell, the current situation shows our lack of preparedness for such global public health catastrophes. Many governments and healthcare systems have adapted to handle the problem by creating SOPs and ensuring their implementation. Public healthcare workers are working around the clock on the frontlines and crucial policy-making to spread awareness and control further infections. Wearing masks, using sanitizers, and keeping a minimum physical distance has become the “new normal.”
Chronic heart conditions, obesity, and related diseases
Each year, more than 600 million people succumb to a heart stroke. Some of the main reasons behind these high numbers are a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and poor eating habits, even in the most developed nations. The tragedy, however, is that despite there being readily available knowledge on the internet, people still suffer a multitude of chronic heart conditions and obesity worldwide.
People need to focus on the preventative measures that public healthcare workers outline as far as physical fitness is concerned. Healthcare workers are addressing issues related to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, blood sugar levels, smoking, etc. It is imperative that individuals consult experts and adhere to healthy ways of eating and living to reduce the risk of such medical conditions and improve overall social well-being.
Sexually transmitted infections and diseases
In 2018, nearly 1.1 million people were spending their life with HIV in America alone. Apart from that, 13% of those even don’t know that they are infected with an STI. Each year, around 7,000 people die from AIDS, which is merely one of several sexually transmitted diseases. While many HIV+ people in developed countries have access to proper medical care to manage living with the disease, it is an epidemic in some underdeveloped nations even in 2021.
STIs and STDs have severe life-altering consequences for people. Not to mention, there is still a considerable amount of social stigma around openly talking about such conditions. It is thus essential to teach people about the ways they can prevent themselves from STIs. People need to be taught about preventative measures such as the use of condoms and the potential risk that comes via needle-sharing. Additionally, myths associated with STDs and STIs need to be actively debunked so that ill people can seek the treatment they need and live “normal” lives in the public sphere.
Excessive use of Tobacco
An estimated 40 million Americans are smokers. Though these numbers are declining, smoking is considered a public health nuisance for multiple reasons. First, the apparent risks associated with cardiovascular health and increased chances of cancer. Secondly, it is an environmental pollutant. Though it may not cause a significant rupture in the ozone layer on its own, it certainly adds to the existing problem. And last but not least, the sheer amount of discomfort it brings to non-smokers in public spaces. And let’s face it; not everyone adheres to the “no smoking” sign correctly.
The CDC suggests that it is better to increase the prices of all tobacco-related products that contain tobacco to limit its use. Though this may not be as simple as it sounds, a healthy alternative is to increase funding for programs that spread awareness about smoking’s disadvantage and actively discourage the activity.
Motor Vehicle Injuries
However, not all public health issues are directly related to individuals and their lifestyle choices or even pesky viruses. In fact, road accidents too affect public health and safety. Drunk or distracted drivers and over-speeding are among the reasons for motor vehicle injuries. Each year, around 32,000 people die due to someone else’s negligence on the road. Many others also suffer permanent injuries leading to physical disability.
Unfortunately, following simple traffic rules such as not going above a particular speed limit or not driving when one is wholly wasted are often ignored. In most developed countries, the offender can – and usually does – land into serious trouble. However, a sense of moral responsibility while driving on the road and basic safety protocols should be engrained into people at an early age. Both public health workers and educators can play a vital role in instilling these values from school.
Dealing with public health challenges is essential in the grander scheme of things and overall social well-being. There is an increase in demand for knowledgeable healthcare professionals to create awareness and develop preventative strategies. Existing healthcare professionals, as well as newbies, can enroll in a plethora of courses to skill up and diversify their careers. This way, they can positively impact lives and improve the overall quality of public health. Together, we all can contribute in numerous small ways. After all, the key to a healthy and prosperous future lies in collectivism.