Underscoring Public Health
Health care reform. It has become the media catchphrase. Thus far – and understandably so – the main concern has been over how to provide adequate coverage to the 46 million uninsured Americans. But the national health care discussion received some new attention today, and, this time, the focus switched to preventative care.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee approved The Affordable Health Choices Act today, a bill that highlights public health, or preventative, programs at its core. Preventative care focuses on wellness and the maintenance of good public health. Public health departments, like the one in its planning stage in the Lehigh Valley, are responsible for the general community health, and, in part, work out plans for protection against communicable diseases, as well as educate the local public about good health programs, such as exercise and nutrition. Because public health initiatives promote smarter development patterns, such as walkable communities, they are in line with smart growth practices.
As mentioned in yesterday’s post, it is important to link up different issues together in the smart growth narrative, and a new Transportation for America blog post examines the connection between transportation and public health, citing some new research that has emerged recently. For instance, the newest figures for the cost of obesity, posted by the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, hover close to $40 billion for that state alone. Another study suggests that women who live in areas with much traffic congestion and air pollution are at higher risk for complications during pregnancy. Transportation reform, not to mention better land-use planning, are both closely tied to these findings, as walkable communities and transit options can help with these health issues.
It is important to remember that public health, while part of the broad health care vision, is separate from the health care coverage discussion, and it is great to see some attention shed on preventative care.
Keep following discussions related to public health by visiting our Join Us page and checking off the Health box. And, of course, keep checking this blog for updates.