National Public Health Week is April 6-10, 2015

Just what is public health? It means drinking clean water, breathing clean air, living free of diseases and eating healthy food. And so much more. In fact, it can be a little surprising to imagine how many other ways Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department quietly impacts our community.

Good public health is all around us, and even though our work might be invisible to you, your local public health department is working hard to make living here safer and healthier — for everyone. Because Healthy People in Healthy Communities is what we’re all about.

American Public Health Association

For nearly 20 years, the APHA has taken the first full week of April to bring together communities across the United States to observe National Public Health Week. It is a time to recognize the contributions of public health and highlight issues that are important to improving our nation.

This year’s theme, Healthiest Nation 2030, challenges us to become the healthiest nation in one generation. Locally, the Health Department and our partners are making strides every day. Here are some of the ways our work supports this vision, linked to the national daily themes:

  • Raising the Grade: Across all ages and socio-economic groups, the United States trails other countries in life expectancy and other measures of good health. Pierce County has high rates of chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, smoking-related illness, obesity, depression and asthma. A strong public health system supports healthy communities and moves us toward preventing illness, disease and injury.
  • Starting from Zip: Today, your zip code says too much about your health. Within the United States, we have unacceptable disparities in health by race and ethnic group, state by state and even county by county. In Pierce County, life expectancy, pregnancy outcomes, mental health, chronic disease rates and dental health can vary widely, based on gender, race, income and education level. The Health Department focuses on ensuring equity across our communities.
  • Building Momentum: Leaders, companies and organizations are taking important steps to create the healthiest nation. In 2014, we finalized a Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), informed by community residents, leaders and local health data. The CHIP identified our most pressing local health concerns — mental health, access to quality health care and chronic disease prevention — and helps all our partners chart a course for better community health.
  • Building Broader Connections: To build the healthiest generation, we need to partner with those who have an impact on our health. The Health Department is leading the development of an Accountable Community of Health in Pierce County. Healthcare systems, providers, payers, purchasers and community partners in education, housing and other factors — all are collaborating to transform the health system and improve population health.
  • Building on 20 Years of Success: 2015 is the American Public Health Association’s 20th anniversary for coordinating National Public Health Week, and the accomplishments of the public health community over the last two decades are significant. Together in Pierce County, we have reduced the number of smokers and uninsured people. Our immunization rates are consistently higher than the state’s. We are increasing dental screening and decreasing cavities.

Want to get involved in National Public Health Week next year? Visit www.nphw.org to learn more or register an event. If you would like to become a Pierce County Public Health Week Partner, please write ejeffers@tpchd.org.