What is Public Health and How to Get Involved
Once a year the nation officially recognizes the mission of public health – to protect, improve and promote the health and well-being of all people through evidence-based practices.
The work that goes into public health ordinarily continues quietly and steadily in our communities, a busy hum of essential programs and services, but the past year was anything except ordinary and quiet. COVID-19 pushed public health front and center onto the world stage, exposing its strengths and flaws under intensifying pressure as the virus spread. As more people get vaccinated and we slow the spread of COVID-19, it is timely that we celebrate National Public Health Week, both the year-around, day-to-day work and the remarkable successes in battling the pandemic.
Holding Steady: Local Public Health Works with You and for You Every Day
For the duration of the pandemic and after it subsides, Spokane Regional Health District will continue to deliver health and safety assistance to the residents of Spokane County and the City of Spokane – over 500,000 people.
Our staff of 250 people deliver over 20 local programs and services to the entire community. We are nurses, epidemiologists, environmental health specialists, data processors, health educators, records specialists, and the many other professional and technical support people we need to do the work of:
- promoting healthy behaviors
- preventing foodborne illness
- improving family health
- investigating communicable disease outbreaks
- conducting safety inspections of schools and businesses
- issuing birth and death certificates
- collecting, analyzing, and publishing health data reports
Rebuilding Ahead: Addressing Disparities through Advocacy
While organizations like SRHD do the hands-on work of public health in our country’s communities, other groups work to create policies and funding that will impact public health in our state and in the whole country. This work is necessary to address health needs in our communities and to help give everybody an equal chance to live a healthy life.
The American Public Health Association cites large areas that require concerted policy action at all levels in our country:
- Public health infrastructure needs to be rebuilt and reinvested in: Less than 3% of U.S. health spending is on public health.
- Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. faces a growing shortage of health care providers.
- Racism is a public health crisis, causing health disparities, including in the rates of COVID-19 diagnoses and deaths.
- The pandemic has illuminated how race, place and income can affect a person’s health, and even survival, in the U.S.
The APHA offers this snapshot of Washington State’s Public Health funding, progress and challenges.
The Washington State Public Health Association, an APHA affiliate, also advocates state action and policies to benefit the public’s health.
How You Can Participate
We invite you to engage with Spokane Regional Health District and public health in these ways:
- Explore our site to learn more about the work we do. Perhaps you or someone you know could benefit from an SRHD program or service.
- Virtually attend the monthly Board of Health meetings and submit written questions.
- Volunteer your skills. The Medical Reserve Corps of Eastern Washington gives you the opportunity to engage in local health-related programs, such as vaccination clinics.