From the Harford County Health Department:
National Public Health Week (NPHW) is observed from April 6th through the 12th this year and draws attention to initiatives aimed at addressing public health threats and improving the health of citizens. This year’s theme is “Making the U.S. the Healthiest Nation in One Generation by 2030.” And there is plenty to celebrate in Harford County in 2015.
Just last month the Harford County Health Department was notified by the National Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) it had been awarded coveted national accreditation status, requiring conformance with 97 performance measures across twelve domains of public health practice. In doing so, it became one of four Maryland local health jurisdictions and one of only 67 among more than 3,000 eligible state, local and territorial public health agencies throughout the country to receive this distinction.
PHAB, a non-profit organization jointly funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, administers the national public health accreditation program, which aims to improve and protect the health of the public by advancing the quality and performance of health departments, nationwide.
Susan Kelly, Harford County Health Officer, comments, “With accreditation comes our continuing commitment to improve essential services and population health. It may be easier to understand the great strides we’ve made in the field of public health once we recognize its impact on our daily lives, including the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat. Public health professionals, health care providers and the public must work collaboratively to achieve the goal of becoming the healthiest nation on earth.”
Ms. Kelly’s comments also come in the wake of last week’s Robert Wood Johnson Foundation National County Health Rankings Report that Harford is relatively healthy by comparison with other Maryland counties, but reflects areas in which improvement is necessary. While Ms. Kelly hopes the rankings would inspire changes needed to rise in the rankings, she acknowledges that a great deal depends on the health decisions and behaviors of Harford County residents. “Whether it’s through research, data collection, health education, policy change, the direct services we can provide, or simply by offering guidance to the public on how to navigate the changing system, public health lays the foundation and creates the conditions that put healthy choices within reach.”
Coincidentally, the Health Department also is celebrating the seventh anniversary of the opening of its Harford County Health Department Dental Clinic. Located in Edgewood, the clinic that had seven patients on March 31, 2008 now accommodates approximately 4,500 dental visits a year.
States HCHD Administrative Director, Marcy Austin, “Just in the last few years, we’ve initiated some wonderful community outreach programs, providing dental screenings, fluoride treatments, sealants, and dental education in the elementary schools. We have hygienists one day a week in the WIC offices who provide screenings, fluoride treatments, and education to the children and families on site and can provide $300 vouchers to our adult clients in Family Planning and WIC for dental treatment at the University of Maryland Dental School in Perryville. We’re also very excited about our ‘Reach out and Read’ program at the clinic in which books are provided to the younger children along with dental education for their parents.”
Since 1995, communities across the country have celebrated this observance the first full week of April, renewing a commitment to promote a healthier nation using a unique theme to center the conversation. 2015 marks the 20th anniversary of APHA coordinating NPHW wherein the accomplishments of the public health community over the last two decades are significant, such as a 25-year improvement in the average lifespan for Americans and a 70 percent reduction in HIV/AIDS-related deaths. Public health departments play a key role in the lives and well-being of people and communities and provide a range of services aimed at promoting healthy behaviors, preventing diseases and injuries, ensuring safe food, water and cleaner air, and preparing for and responding to public health emergencies.
To sign the pledge to help make America the Healthiest Nation in One Generation, visit the website, www.apha.org/2030. For more information about National Public Health Week, visit www.nphw.org. or visit the Harford County Health Department website at www.harfordcountyhealth.com