TACOMA, Wash. – Just what is public health? It means drinking clean water, breathing clean air, living free of diseases and eating healthy food. National Public Health Week is a time to learn more about how Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department quietly impacts our community.Community organizations that work with the Health Department, or that would like to connect with us, are invited to a free event, Public Health 101, on Wednesday, April 8, from 9 to 10 a.m. in our Auditorium at 3629 South D Street in Tacoma. A light breakfast and coffee will be served while we discuss the basics of public health. Contact Lauren Ho at (253) 798-4762, with questions or to register for the event.
Healthiest Nation 2030
National Public Health Week (www.NWPH.org) is a time to recognize the contributions of public health and highlight issues that are important to improving our nation. This year’s theme, Healthiest Nation 2030, challenges us to become the healthiest nation in one generation. Locally, the Health Department and our partners are making strides every day. Here are some of the ways our work supports this vision:
· Raising the Grade: Across all ages and socio-economic groups, the United States trails other countries in life expectancy and other measures of good health.
A strong public health system supports healthy communities and moves us toward preventing illness, disease and injury. Our programs work to prevent transmission of communicable diseases and ensure that water is safe to drink, air is safe to breathe and food is safe to eat. We collaborate with other organizations to improve the health of children and families, including nursing and family support worker services, substance abuse counseling and a comprehensive community oral health plan. We also team to improve the walkability of our neighborhoods and the availability of fresh food for all.
· Starting from Zip: Today, your zip code says too much about your health. Within the United States, we have unacceptable disparities in health by race and ethnic group, state by state and even county by county.
Locally, residents of higher income neighborhoods can live on average two decades longer than their neighbors in lower income areas nearby. Pregnant women in the Hilltop and Eastside of Tacoma are at much higher risk for poor outcomes than those in the North End. Other social factors are linked to health disparities. Non-white children are twice as likely to have cavities as whites. We are committed to addressing the root causes that lead to these variations in health outcomes. To accomplish this, we are thoroughly assessing our programs and policies, and are aiming to incorporate health equity into all of our work.
· Building Momentum: Leaders, companies and organizations are taking important steps to create the healthiest nation.
We bring people together to improve our community’s health. In 2014, we finalized a Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) with shared regional health goals. Informed by community residents, leaders and local health data, the CHIP identified our most pressing local health concerns: mental health, access to quality health care and preventive services, and chronic disease prevention. The CHIP is a road map for all Pierce County partners to chart a course to better community health.
· Building Broader Connections: To build the healthiest generation, we need to partner with those who have an impact on our health.
The Health Department is convening partners to develop an Accountable Community of Health in Pierce County. Healthcare systems, providers, payers, purchasers and community partners are collaborating to transform the health system to achieve higher quality, cost-effective, whole-person care that will improve population health. And because health disparities are linked to income, education, neighborhood, housing and other factors, we are engaging community partners that impact those factors.
· Building on 20 Years of Success: 2015 is the American Public Health Association’s 20th anniversary for coordinating National Public Health Week, and the accomplishments of the public health community over the last two decades are significant.
In Pierce County, we have seen a reduction in the number of smokers and uninsured people. Our immunization rates are consistently higher than the state’s. We are increasing dental screening and decreasing cavities.
Good public health is all around us. Your local public health department is working hard to make living here safer and healthier — for everyone. Learn more about your health department and National Public Health Week at www.tpchd.org/publichealthweek.