If you’re not sure what public health encompasses or what its workers do, you’re not alone, and an awareness campaign from a Kalamazoo College class aims to change that.
“This is Public Health at K,” adapted from the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health, is being launched by K’s Issues in Public Health class, taught by Dr. Khadija Brumblay.
Students in the class said jointly, “Dr. Brumblay’s class has impacted our perception of public health and public health workers. We hope to expand that understanding to K students to help them realize how public health impacts their daily lives.”
Public health promotes well-being through education and advocacy, protects health through policy and legislation, and prevents illnesses, diseases and injuries. It includes things as varied as speed limit signs, ergonomic chairs, trash cans, sewage systems, vaccine developments and campaigns, water sanitation, mental health prevention, diet and physical exercise education, tobacco taxation and national surveys that monitor health.
Its workers are community workers who visit homes to engage with people, their families and entire communities. They organize education campaigns, develop sexual-education curriculum and cancer screening campaigns. They collect pond and rain water, soil and animal droppings to identify the causes and risk factors for diseases, while predicting and modeling the occurrence and trends of diseases, illnesses and injuries. They promote planting trees and encourage people to use seat belts while driving and helmets while biking.
No matter who they are or what they do, “public health workers are advocates for various communities who work in pursuit of a healthier, more equitable society that prioritizes the well-being of all,” the class said.
About 100 years ago, about half of all the babies born in the U.S. didn’t live past their first year. A century of interventions as simple as hand washing have pushed overall life expectancy from 40 to 78 years in the U.S. That is the might of public health.
These positive trends are observed worldwide. But significant inequities between countries and between communities in the same countries remain due to the socio-demographic, economic and political hierarchies in our societies. In Kalamazoo, infant mortality is much greater for Black children than white children. Equity and access to opportunities are therefore at the center of all public health efforts.
Unfortunately, for the first time in human history, life expectancy is declining due to a combination of deaths of despair such as opioid overdoses, suicides and the COVID-19 pandemic. In light of recent developments, including vaccine hesitancy and reduced trust in science and the medical profession, it is important to pause and appreciate public health for its central role in human health and well-being.
You can help by spreading the word. Talk to your friends, share links and hashtags (#ThisIsPublicHealthatK) from the campaign, and like and comment on social media posts.
As the College’s motto is lux esto, or be light, “public health is the light leading us to a brighter future,” the class said.
From the Class
Health is more than just a hospital with doctors and shots. Please take a moment to skim this information and gain a better understanding of both the different forms that public health takes on and how they have manifested on our campus. It should be said that you can advocate for further efforts toward supporting any of these forms of public health on our campus. To make changes in the health of this campus, you must first understand it, so we hope this infographic and other supporting information provides some of the knowledge to support utilization and even expansion of public health care at K.
This campaign’s goal is to increase awareness and understanding of what public health is and how it impacts all facets of daily life. Public health is the promotion of healthy living by education to prevent injuries and illnesses. How can we impact the attitudes of K students to identify what makes public health important to them at a personal level and then at the community level? Furthermore, this campaign will generate critical thinking of where Kalamazoo College may need help. This will benefit the College’s public health approach. We want to be a part of the larger picture and be a model institution.
The Original ‘This Is Public Health’ Campaign
The This Is Public Health Campaign divides the campaign into three areas: prevention, impact, and equity & justice. Impact is one of its standout qualities and it speaks to the CGHL 210- Issues in Public Health class. Preventing disease and injury starts with education and acknowledging where the inequities occur that lead to health disparities. This Is Public Health campaign is run by Association of Schools and Programs of Health to raise awareness and meet students where they’re at. Various modes of technology and advertisement includes news articles, social media, books, and podcasts. Most resources on the campaign websites are created and promoted by student teams and classes. This Is Public Health centers self-advocacy and agency of students to gain a stronger presence in all areas of public health.