PUBLIC HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES

“The health of people is the foundation upon which all their happiness and all their powers as a state depend”

– Benjamin Disraeli, British Prime Minister.

Analyzing the health of a population and the threats is the basis for public health. Access to health care and public health initiatives are difficult challenges in developing nations. We aim to improve the quality of life through prevention and treatment of disease, including mental health. This is done through surveillance of cases and health indicators, and through promotion of healthy behaviors. Common public health initiatives include promoting handwashing and breastfeeding, delivery of vaccinations, suicide prevention and distribution of condoms to control the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Health systems are grappling with the effects of existing communicable and noncommunicable diseases and also with the increasing burden of emerging and re-emerging diseases.

The causes of health inequalities lie in the social, economic and political mechanisms that lead to social stratification according to income, education, occupation, gender and race or ethnicity. Lack of adequate progress on these underlying social determinants of health has been acknowledged as a glaring failure of public health.

Important issues that the health systems must confront are lack of financial and material resources, health workforce issues and the stewardship challenge of implementing proequity health policies in a pluralistic environment.

Health profiles published by the government should be used to help communities prioritize their health problems and to inform local decision making. Public health laboratories have a good capacity to support the government’s diagnostic and research activities on health risks and threats, and should be utilized efficiently.

There is a need for strengthening research infrastructure in the departments of community medicine in various institutes and to foster their partnerships with state health services.

Safe drinking water and sanitation are critical determinants of health, which would directly contribute to 70-80% reduction in the burden of communicable diseases. Full coverage of drinking water supply and sanitation through existing programs, in both rural and urban areas, is achievable and affordable.

Provision of urban basic services like water supply, sewerage and solid waste management needs special attention. Other issues to be addressed are housing and urban poverty alleviation.

Action is required in the following areas: Promotion of agricultural mechanization, improving efficiency of investments, rationalizing subsidies and diversifying and providing better access to land, credit and skills.

Other determinants are:

• Education

• Nutrition and really child development

• Food security measures

• Population stabilization

• Gender mainstreaming and empowerment

• Reducing the impact of climate change and disasters on health

• Community participation

• Private sectors, civil societies and global partnerships

• Governance issues

In this changing world, with unique challenges that threaten the health and well-being of the population, it is imperative that the government and community collectively rise to the occasion and face these challenges simultaneously, inclusively and sustainably. Social determinants of health and economic issues must be dealt with a consensus on ethical principles – universalism, justice, dignity, security and human rights. This approach will be of valuable service to humanity in realizing the dream of right to health. The ultimate yardstick for success would be if every Bayelsan, from a remote hamlet in Sagbama to the city of Yenagoa, experiences the change.

The ultimate goal of a great nation would be one where the rural and urban divide has reduced to a thin line, with adequate access to clean energy and safe water, where the best of health care is available to all, where the governance is responsive, transparent and corruption free, where poverty and illiteracy have been eradicated and crimes against women and children are removed – a healthy nation that is one of the best places to live in.

Public Health in Environmental Issues

Public Health and Environmental Studies explores the links between health and the environment in order to prevent harmful exposure while promoting a healthier built environment. The field of public and environmental health grew out of a need to protect workers from very high exposures to chemical and physical hazards in industrial settings.

The methods developed for the workplace are now used to measure the exposure of ordinary citizens to environmental agents as they move through the many microenvironments of everyday life.

The WHO defined environmental health services as those services which implement environmental health policies through monitoring and control activities. They also carry out that role by promoting the improvement of environmental parameters and by encouraging the use of environmentally friendly and healthy technologies and behaviours. They also have a leading role in developing and suggesting new policy areas.

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