April 4 begins National Public Health Week, where contributions of public health professionals and movements are noted and where we draw attention to the pressing issues central to improving the health of our nation. Though we spend exorbitant amounts of money and resources on health care, we continue to struggle with obesity, diabetes, heart disease, infant mortality and numerous other both preventable and chronic ailments. In this 20th year of National Public Health Week, the campaign aims to educate providers, politicians and patients toward the stated goal of becoming the Healthiest Nation by 2030. Strategies are delineated to shift our nation's health outcomes in one generation.
There are a number of attributes in our communities central to achieving Healthiest Nation goals. The creation of adequate housing, open space, safe outdoor play areas and accessible public transportation is essential. We need to insure an improved high school graduation rate, which is a reliable benchmark for individuals achieving better housing, jobs and access to healthcare. Keeping an eye on income disparity, we need to appreciate how poverty and poor health are integrally related and work toward creating more economic equality. We must advocate for a more just allocation of our federal, state and local resources and to work against the institutional racism that negatively impacts us all. We must work toward the creation of healthy food options and nutrition education that starts early and is ongoing and pointed for particular populations and regions. Noting the connections between our environment and health, we need to support efforts that protect our air, water and food sources. And perhaps most importantly, we need to shift our efforts toward prevention rather than treatment, as prevention is imminently cost effective and improves quality of life. To read more about National Public Health Week or to get involved see here.
On this occasion we would also like to highlight another initiative, the Healthy People project from Federal Department of Health and Human Services. Each decade the government develops a plan or wish list aimed at helping navigate health care objectives. If you would like to read the current version find Developing Healthy People 2020, click here. And if you are interested in what your state is planning along this line, see here.
Two of the main goals for the decade are reducing the incidence/improving the treatment of back pain and another goal is diminishing the use of opioids as a first line treatment for pain.
Naturopathic physicians, licensed in 20 states and municipalities across America bring a strong preventive medicine perspective and help to move us toward these public health goals.
Regarding the treatment of pain and back pain, see these references.
To read about naturopathic doctors approaches to prevention/treatment of opioid addiction, see here.
Here's to the evolving health of our communities through focused and well-resourced programs that address the needs of individuals and communities and which incorporate preventive and natural medicine approaches.