Public Health: Start Here

By Mary Ann Webb Contributing Columnist

April 5, 2014

In 1995, the first full week of April was proclaimed as National Public Health Week (NPHW). Each year since then, the public health community has celebrated this observance by focusing on an issue that is important to improving the public’s health. This year’s National Public Health Week theme is “Public Health: Start Here.” The week will highlight the fact that the public health system that keeps our communities healthy and safe is changing as technologies advance, public attitudes toward health shift and more health and safety options become available through policy changes such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Public health professionals, including the staff at the Madison County/London City Health District, are the guides of this system, and we are charged with helping our communities navigate the many choices along the way.

This year’s event will focus on the following daily themes:

Monday, April 7 — Be healthy from the start. From maternal health and school nutrition to emergency preparedness, public health starts at home. Let us show you around.

Tuesday, April 8 — Don’t panic. Disaster preparedness starts with community-wide commitment and action. We’re here to help you weather the unexpected.

Wednesday, April 9 — Get out ahead. Prevention, which is what public health is all about, is now a nationwide priority. Let us show you where you fit in.

Thursday, April 10 — Eat well. The system that keeps our nation’s food safe and healthy is complex. We can guide you through the choices.

Friday, April 11 — Be the healthiest nation in one generation. Best practices for community health come from around the globe. We have a world of public health to show you.

Public health is what we practice every day at the Madison County/London City Health District — your local health department. It starts here. Everything we do is aimed at improving your health and your quality of life. We are prepared, and we help you to be prepared, to deal with unforeseen disasters and catastrophes. We help you take care of your children and yourself by providing vaccinations and healthy foods. We inspect restaurants and grocery stores, and oversee water supplies and sewage systems in order to protect you and your environment. But if we want to achieve the goal of becoming a healthier community and nation in one generation, we need your help. We need you to choose to live healthier and safer…start here by taking a few small but helpful actions:

1. Eat healthy meals. Follow recommended guidelines for a healthy diet. Limit your intake of unnecessary fats and sugars. Read nutrition labels when you are grocery shopping, and make smart choices.

2. Get enough exercise. Get out and move. Being physically active can reap huge benefits in improving your health.

3. Quit tobacco. The best advice is to never start, but if you smoke, quit. It is the leading cause of lung cancer and heart disease.

4. Get routine screenings, such as mammograms and colonoscopies. Screenings save lives with early detection.

5. Keep up-to-date on immunizations. Many childhood fatal diseases have been eradicated thanks to immunizations, but some are now making a comeback in part because of a growing trend to not immunize. Mumps, measles, and whooping cough are good examples.

6. Wash your hands to help limit the spread of infection. This one activity can have a huge effect on stopping the spread of disease.

7. Gather your household for a night of emergency preparedness: Make plans for putting together an emergency stockpile kit, create a crisis communication plan, designate an emergency meeting place and hold household emergency drills.

Help us to celebrate National Public Health Week, April 7-13. And remember, public health starts here. Let us help you navigate the changes in order to build a healthier community and nation.


Mary Ann Webb, R.S., MPH is the health commissioner for the Madison County/London City Health District, 306 Lafayette St., London, (740) 852-3065, ext. 1523.