Spokane Regional Health District Recognizes National Public Health Week 2015
Promoting This Year’s Theme, “Healthiest Nation 2030: Together we can create the healthiest nation in one generation.”
For more information, contact Kim Papich SRHD Public Information Officer (509) 324-1539 or email@example.com
SPOKANE, Wash. – April 3, 2015 – Public health is not well known or understood, because it operates very much behind the scenes. It is not as visible as law enforcement or firefighting, but public health is just as vital to the safety and well-being of the community.
National Public Health Week (NPHW), April 6-12, is an opportunity to increase awareness of public health, put a spotlight on critical issues in the community and celebrate the many ways in which, together with partners, public health agencies like Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) are working to improve people’s lives.
SRHD responds to outbreaks of diseases and controls their spread. Staff inspect restaurants to ensure the food Spokane residents eat is safe, while putting environmental controls in places to lessen threats to human health. The health district monitors the quality of vaccines used to immunize individuals and families and works to prevent communicable diseases. And SRHD teams work to prevent chronic diseases through the adoption of healthy behaviors. This kind of work often goes unnoticed and that is why SRHD is passionate about participating in National Public Health Week.
This year, NPHW focuses on the theme “Healthiest Nation 2030: Together we can create the healthiest nation in one generation.” SRHD and its partners are working to make that a reality every day. The daily themes of NPHW help to emphasize some of the challenges the health district faces, along with the ways in which the community is working to overcome them.
Monday, April 6: Raising the Grade. America spends $2.7 trillion annually on health care—more than any other nation.1 Despite this, the United States trails other countries in life expectancy and other measures of good health, and this holds true across all ages and income levels. Chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes are responsible for seven in 10 deaths among Americans each year, and account for nearly 75 percent of the nation’s health spending.2 Approximately 45 percent of the population has at least one chronic health condition.3
The underlying risk factors that SRHD can impact are tobacco smoking, lack of physical activity and unhealthy diets. For this reason, staff focus on changing the environments in which residents live, work and play to make it easier for people to choose healthier behaviors. SHRD’s work includes:
- partnering with businesses, agencies and policy makers to provide active transportation options with increased sidewalks and bikeways
- implementing smoke-free policies for housing and worksites
- introducing smart lunchroom design in schools
- educating diners about the impacts of sodium in their diets
- providing healthier vending options
- ensuring families and children have access to nutritious foods
- and much, much more
Tuesday, April 7: Starting from Zip. Today, a person’s zip code says too much about their health. Within the United States, there are unacceptable disparities in health. Spokane County is no exception. In local neighborhoods, poverty, race/ethnicity and other social factors converge with the physical environment to produce the overall conditions that shape health. West Central has the highest maternal smoking rate compared to any other neighborhood, with a rate more than 10 times higher than Manito, the neighborhood with the lowest maternal smoking rate. Female teenagers in West Central are 35.3 times more likely to become pregnant than those in 5 Mile. Among all 40 neighborhoods in Spokane County, Southgate has the lowest and Riverside (downtown Spokane) has the highest overall age-adjusted mortality rate. And the gap in life expectancy is approximately 18 years between the neighborhood with the highest life expectancy and the neighborhood with the lowest.4
Wednesday, April 8: Building Momentum. Leaders, companies and organizations are taking important steps to create the healthiest nation. SRHD is bringing people together to improve community and build capacity to continue to this work. SRHD’s Neighborhoods Matter program works with private and public entities at the community level to address inequities and disparities at the neighborhood-level. This program received the National Association of Cities and Counties Health Officials (NACCHO) Model Practice Award in 2012.
Thursday, April 9: Building Broader Connections. Partnership is essential to becoming the healthiest nation. SRHD seeks to collaborate with government, education, business and non-profit organizations in a variety of ways. One example is Priority Spokane, a collaboration working to create a healthy and vibrant Spokane community. In 2009, educational attainment, specifically high school graduation, became the group’s first priority because of education’s significant impact on other factors in an individual's life and the community as a whole. For its work, Priority Spokane is focusing on the middle school experience for students, both inside and outside the classroom. Studies show that providing appropriate resources to students during this period can dramatically improve high school retention rates. In partnership with Spokane Public Schools (SPS), a dropout early warning system and tracking process were developed. The system is designed to identify students at risk of school failure, and then align their needs with community supports. A school partner dashboard allows community agencies to track a students’ progress in school and, overtime, evaluate the effectiveness of different intervention programs. Efforts are already underway to expand beyond SPS to school districts throughout Spokane County and the state.
Friday, April 10: Building on 20 Years of Success. 2015 marks the 20th anniversary of American Public Health Association coordinating National Public Health Week. While the work of public health often goes unnoticed, the accomplishments of the public health community over the last two decades are significant. In Spokane County, there was a significant reduction in the number of adults and pregnant women who smoke, and a significant decrease in the proportion of adolescents using illicit drugs. Nearly 15 miles of bike lanes and over 55,000 linear feet of sidewalks have been added as a result of complete streets policies. Food insecurity among youth has significantly decreased and more students are graduating from high school.
Since 1995, communities nationwide have celebrated NPHW each April to draw attention to the need to help protect and improve the nation’s health. The event helps educate and engage communities in the movement to create a healthier America for ourselves and the generations to come. Spokane residents have a role to play in making America the healthiest nation in one generation.
For more information about National Public Health Week, visit ###a>www.nphw.org. Information can also be found at www.srhd.org. SRHD’s website offers comprehensive, updated information about Spokane Regional Health District and its efforts to make Spokane County a safer and healthier community. Become a fan of SRHD on Facebook to receive local safety and wellness tips. You can also follow us on Twitter @spokanehealth.
1. http://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Statistics-Trends-and-Reports/ NationalHealthExpendData/NHE-Fact-Sheet.html
4. /media/documents/PublicHealthData/HealthInequities-2012.pdf – pages 51, 52, 53 and 57