Public health has always been a matter of grave concern for human society and governments alike. Ensuring public health and safety predates as far back as 1854 when Dr. John Snow diagnosed the cause of the first cholera outbreak. In the following decades, the healthcare industry and societies have taken significant strides in improving the general population’s health and well-being through various public health interventions.
Even today, as the covid-19 pandemic tightens its grip on the world in its third wave, public health interventions are prevalent in all countries and societies. The idea behind such interventions is to lead an organized effort in the promotion of specific behaviors, habits, and lifestyle changes that contribute positively to human lives. On the flipside, authorities can also use these interventions to reframe the focus on unhealthy lifestyle choices and discourage people from giving up on habits that can harm them.
Governments, healthcare institutions, and NGOs are currently in the middle of enforcing one of the most significant healthcare intervention programs to tackle the spread of the novel coronavirus. It includesraising awareness about physical distancing, wearing masks, and implementing stringent measures for personal and public hygiene. Most countries worldwide have realized the importance of these measures regardless of how widespread the disease is within their borders. If one wishes to educate themselves and pursue a professional degree in the public health sector, CEPH accredited online MPH programs no GREare an excellent opportunity to begin. Below are a few of the common public health interventions authorities employ to ensure a safe and healthy community.
Vaccination programs are one of the most commonly known and well-understood healthcare intervention programs. All governments actively participate in vaccination programs. Several NGOs and international organizations working under the United Nations’ ambit also endorse, finance, and execute vaccination programs.Most of these interventions occur in under-developed nations to improve the quality of life and increase life expectancy.
Polio, Tetanus shots, Flu, Measles, Chicken Pox, etc., are a few examples of vaccines that are now compulsory for every newborn in most countries. With the development of several coronavirus vaccines, there are now active government-funded programs in most countries thatfocus on creating herd immunity to stop the spread. Vaccinating the elderly and frontline workers such as healthcare professionals is part of government strategies to tackle the pandemic through active intervention.
2. Tobacco-consumption awareness
Research in the late 20th and early 21st centuries has successfully altered tobacco consumption’s social perceptions. Tobacco consumptionhad been glamorized by corporations engaged in the business through attractive marketing and promotional campaigns. Some researchers argue that the impact of aggressive tobacco promotions led to a whole generation of young adults becoming active smokers, and even more people, passive smokers. Today, the numerous drawbacks of excessive smoking are widely known to people who access education and information.
However, the perception of tobacco has drastically shifted in recent times. Governments now actively discourage tobacco consumption by levying heavy taxes, restricting import/export, and banning smoking in indoor/public spaces. The awareness of the connection between smoking and lung cancer is widespread. Without this support, it would have been challenging to curtail tobacco consumption regardless of the ever-increasing number of cancer patients.
3. Educational and behavioral change
At the base of every public health intervention campaign, educating the masses is often an unsaid objective. The intent behind educating people is often to introduce a behavioral shift in favor of a more desirable one to counter public health issues. Or it could also be to discourage existing behavior that could be detrimental to one’s health. Regardless, all healthcare interventions must contain an associated educational component for their successful execution. Consider STI/STD awareness as an example of public health intervention through education.
Governments across the world have historically participated in educating their population regarding the threat of HIV/AIDs. To do so, emphasis was laid on the importance of lifestyle changes such as circumcision for men, disposal of used syringes, and reliance on male contraceptives to reduce the spread of STIs. The government intended to introduce a behavioral change amongst people through education, especially in African countries, where this disease’s spread remains rampant.
4. Controlling intermediary hosts
Developing countries located around tropical regions are known for infections that spread through intermediary hosts. Dengue and Malaria are two well-known diseases that spread via mosquitos. Especially in the South-Asian region, the monsoon season’s arrival and summers every year bring a new wave of medical chaos.
Governments and public health organizations in these countries have active intervention programsthat tackle these diseases at various stages of their life cycle. Control measures such as spraying of insecticide in mosquito hotbeds combined with awareness material on public cleanliness and the importance ofprotection against mosquito bites are commonplace. Cleaning puddles, covering open water sources, closing windows during sunrise and sunset (peak mosquito time) are examples of government intervention programs on reducing host spread.
5. Injury prevention interventions
Physical injuries are leading causes of death and disability amongpeople. These also have a small yet noticeable negative economic impact on society, primarily because injuries can affect a person’s mental and productive capacity. Traffic accidents, fires, drowning, assault, and violence collectivelyinjure a large population every year.
Public health interventions such as making it mandatory to wear helmets while riding bikes, wearing seatbelts in cars, using a life vest, etc., help to keep the public safe and healthy in mundane situations. Additionally, ensuring that public spaces follow practical guidelines such as designing fire exits and ramps and banning weapons significantly contribute to public safety.
Ensuring public health and safety is essential to build strong and thriving communities. Without proper public health interventions, education and awareness, it is nearly impossible to accomplish this goal. However, one does not have to be in a position of authority to create a difference. As individuals, we all can play our part by adhering to public health guidelines, educating ourselves, and spreading awareness. After all, every bit counts!