This week marks National Public Health Week (NPHW). Organized annually by the American Public Health Association, NPHW works to educate the public, policymakers, and practitioners on public health issues facing our country. Amid a pandemic, it is apparent now more than ever the importance of public health. This year’s campaign includes daily themes on rebuilding, advancing health equity, strengthening community, galvanizing climate justice, building COVID-19 resilience, uplifting mental health and wellness, and elevating the essential and health workforce. While you can read about these themes on the NPHW website, I wanted to highlight a few that particularly resonate with the KHC.
- Advancing Racial Equity: On Tuesday, NPHW focused on advancing racial equity. Racism is a public health crisis impacting the health and well-being of Black and Brown communities. It warranted swift action decades ago, but hopefully in the wake of the events of 2020, we will see impactful changes in the years to come. One of the action items NPHW notes is to “apply a racial equity lens to all decisions about policies and programs.” This is something we are doing at the KHC as we work to drive healthcare equity and anti-racist healthcare systems. I look forward to seeing other organizations both locally and nationally take part in this action. We are all part of the problem and we all need to be part of the solution to create an equitable and just society.
- Building COVID-19 Resilience: Friday’s theme focuses on how we can take action to build COVID-19 resilience. As vaccine distribution opens to the public, it is important to remain vigilant. NPHW urges community members to continue best-practices like staying at home and wearing your mask while vaccines continue to be administered. Getting your annual flu shot and encouraging others to do the same can reduce the burden on healthcare systems. Sharing credible resources on the virus to battle misinformation and advocating for equitable vaccine distribution are other useful ways to build resilience.
- Uplifting Mental Health and Wellness: Saturday’s theme focuses on the importance of uplifting mental health and wellness. The stress and isolation from the pandemic have taken a toll on so many of us – me included. NPHW notes how strategies like physical activity, developing coping skills, getting enough sleep, and eating a balanced diet can improve mental health. Importantly, NPHW recognizes the impact that police brutality has had on the mental health of BIPOC communities. It is critical to increase access to treatment and coping options to these communities.
The overall theme of this year’s NPHW is “Building Bridges to Better Health” – a sentiment that rings close to home for the KHC where we recognize that we can accomplish more together than alone. We can all take action to drive change. This week, let’s celebrate public health and learn what we all can do to create a healthier and more equitable future.
View the National Public Health Week 2021 website here.