The importance of public health professionals in improving community health
Public health professionals are some of the few die-hard altruists we find in our community and whose contribution to society is indispensable. Success in any other arena is impossible without good community health. This sector plays a vital, if not the most important, role in protecting the community against health problems like epidemics.
For a successful community health program, our community needs a communication channel between the healthcare sector and society to ensure collaborative effort; public health workers perform this crucial role.
Without community involvement, we cannot perceive a system of quick implementation and one-sided effort will not yield the desired results. Pursuing a career in public healthcare is a wonderful idea because we cannot have enough of these professionals.
Once you enter this field, you can find many opportunities in different organizations and for various roles. The following are some of the most important contributions that public health professionals make to community health:
- Monitoring the health situation of the community
The first and most crucial step to solving any problem is identifying the issue; public health workers work on the frontline to look for public health concerns through surveillance programs.
Such efforts aim to identify infectious diseases, potential breakouts and epidemics, disease patterns, and growing health problems before they escalate and are no longer in control. This process is then followed by interventions designed to curb the problem within time.
The Public health job outlook is very appealing to someone who wishes to contribute to the well-being of their community and promote public health. Fortunately, the profession also gives many personal benefits simultaneously; it has great scope, diversity, ever-growing importance, and varied pay scales.
- Diagnosing and exploring the problem
Once a risk factor has been identified, public health professionals further explore the problem through large-scale surveys. The goal is to determine which population is affected the most, what mistakes the people to make them vulnerable to the problem, and any preventive measures that can and must be taken.
Epidemiologists are the professionals most actively involved in this process. They explore the distribution of health problems across the population, identify the common factors, figure out potential causes of vulnerability, and use it to protect the rest of the people.
Today’s starting point in most exploratory research is digital disease detection; here, news reports are monitored, and keywords are tracked to identify the places most exposed to the problem.
- Launching public awareness campaigns
After identifying the affected population and the contributors to the health problem, healthcare workers move on to the next big task; spreading public awareness to implement prevention strategies. We can see the role of public healthcare workers in several epidemic situations.
The black sleep campaign was launched following the rapid increase in sudden infant death syndrome. Surveys indicated that 89% of sudden infant death syndrome victims had unsafe sleeping conditions. The community was instructed to ensure babies didn’t sleep on their sides or bellies.
Similarly, when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, many online awareness programs and advertisements were launched, highlighting the necessary SOPs and prevention measures. Much of the public was completely unaware of the contagious nature of this virus until the public health sector worked towards spreading public awareness.
- Ensuring proper health service delivery
Poor access to healthcare can be a terrible ordeal in any health crisis; if a significant sector of the population cannot access healthcare, the problem will only escalate. Public health professionals work towards streamlining healthcare services so that everyone, especially people in remote areas, can receive help.
They join with local NGOs and private or public service centers to achieve this. The main aim is to work on the community’s healthcare infrastructure and make its services accessible.
- Mobilizing various bodies toward a collaborative effort
Large Scale programs like these cannot operate on the efforts of a single body. As a community, every individual and every organization is united in this effort. The public health sector works on this and tries to unite stakeholders.
This also involves those people or groups who might not be directly concerned with healthcare but can help organize public awareness programs.
A community health team might include doctors, specialists in healthcare, technologists, therapists, and administrators. Beyond this, every individual and group can be involved in one way or another. For instance, for effective campaigns in the marginalized population, the best group to include is the locals.
- Establishing policies
Without concerted efforts toward implementing the necessary preventive and curative measures, there is no use for the initial struggle to identify the problem. One way to ensure citizens take the suggested preventative measures is to establish policies. This also involves laws and regulations that must be followed at all costs.
Public health policymaking outlines guidelines to implement in workplaces, homes, public places, etc. During the COVID-19 pandemic, for instance, SOPs were drafted, and the public was always encouraged to wear masks and maintain 6 feet distance.
Organizations, workplaces, shopping malls, and educational institutes all made it mandatory to wear masks and get temperature checked at the entrance. Immunization requirements and vaccination certificates were made necessary.
Similarly, where certain food additives risk public health, the Food and Drug Administration enforces rules that producers must follow.
- Evaluating the effectiveness of the approach
Once a program is launched and implemented, its effectiveness is evaluated, and any room for improvement is identified. All such health initiatives by the healthcare sector are constantly monitored and assessed. This process involved various professionals, even beyond the healthcare realm.
Take Epidemiologists as an example. They re-evaluate disease trends, while biostatisticians conduct surveys and review medical records. This helps identify loopholes so that improvements can be made. Following such evaluations, public health professionals often work on innovating new strategies.
The role of public health professionals is indispensable to any community. Their primary role is identifying potential health concerns, exploring the problem, launching awareness programs, working on healthcare service delivery, and establishing policies. These professionals then conduct evaluative research to see the effectiveness of their approach to public health problems.
Although different population segments are involved, public health professionals help collaborate these efforts. Without their relentless and organized efforts, good community health would seem impossible.
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