Every year since 1995, communities across the United States have observed the first week of April as National Public Health Week (NPHW) - a time to recognize the contributions of public health and highlight issues that are important to improving the public’s health.
Organized by the American Public Health Association (APHA) , NPHW is a national campaign that strives to educate the public, policymakers and practitioners about issues related to that year’s theme. This year, APHA will continue its broad vision to make America the healthiest nation in one generation by addressing the importance of prevention and wellness through the theme "A Healthier America Begins Today: Join the Movement".
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Everyone has a role to play, and each action, no matter how small, can make a big difference in a community. You can help by raising awareness of prevention and wellness in your community during NPHW 2012 this week. Begin by observing this year’s daily themes:
Monday: A healthier America begins with active living and healthy eating — Promote healthy choices in your communities, such as bike lanes and farmer’s markets.
Tuesday: A healthier America begins with living tobacco- and drug-free and preventing alcohol abuse — Identify alcohol and drug use disorders early to reduce high-risk alcohol and drug consumption.
Wednesday: A healthier America begins with preventing communicable diseases — Encourage proper hand-washing and food preparation habits.
Thursday: A healthier America begins with reproductive and sexual health — Practice safe sex, encourage responsible contraception behavior and promote access to preventive health services.
Friday: A healthier America begins with mental and emotional well-being — Refer people with signs of depression and suicidal thinking to appropriate resources and help centers.
NPHW 2012: Why is it Important?
- Nearly 1 million Americans die every year from diseases that could be prevented, making even small preventive changes and initiatives important to living healthier lives.
- More than 34,000 Americans die every year as result of suicide — approximately one suicide every 15 minutes. Suicide rates are highest among America Indian/Alaska Native youth. Risk factors for suicide include alcohol or other substance abuse, isolation, extreme emotional stress, history of child maltreatment and mental health conditions such as depression.
- Although America provides some of the world’s best health care and spent more than $2.5 trillion for health in 2009, it still ranks below many countries in life expectancy, infant mortality and many other indicators of healthy life.
- Currently, Americans are living 78 years on average, but only 69 of these years are spent in good health, making it important to invest in prevention to complement existing health systems and treatment options.
- Lifelong health starts not when a health problem arises, but through prevention.
- National Public Health Week is a time to celebrate advancements in public health, assess our nation’s current public health status and highlight the importance of taking action. Our goal is to create a healthier nation in one generation!
National Public Health Week is a time to unite around a critical public health issue and focus our collective energy on the singular goal of helping people live longer, happier, healthier lives. To learn more on how you can help, visit the National Public Health Week website or download the 2012 Partner Toolkit. And don’t forget to include #NPHW when tweeting about NPHW.