Magazine article The Nation's Health

Educate Policy-Makers Now to Make an Impact on Public Health: APHA's New President Calls for Advocacy

Magazine article The Nation's Health

Educate Policy-Makers Now to Make an Impact on Public Health: APHA's New President Calls for Advocacy

Article excerpt

In upcoming months, we have opportunities to have the voice of public health heard in many forums, and we can use these opportunities to educate policy-makers and politicians about what is important to ensure the public's health.

While we have come a long way in protecting health, we face new threats to the health of our communities, such as childhood obesity, emerging infectious diseases and climate change. We are also still struggling with the threats we have not yet been able to eliminate, including violence, injuries, substance abuse, lack of access to care and health disparities.

We are seeing a shift in the focus from environmental and social change to one that makes people responsible for the choices that they make. At the same time, we are not providing them with an environment that encourages physical activity, healthy eating, healthy social activities or access to prevention programs. We are often frustrated because policymakers don't seem to "get" public health, and don't see it as a priority.

How do we change this? It is going to take each of us to act. We need to bring our concerns forward. We also need to bring the important stories and data that reflect both the successes and the problems in our community to the public and policy-makers. We can do this in our own communities--at town hall meetings, community forums and regional events --and by visiting our members of Congress and talking with them about the importance of public health in their communities.

We need to let policymakers know what happens when public health doesn't work, when there isn't funding for school nurses, prevention programs, mental health services, improving the environment, worker safety or sanitarians. …

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