By Mary Wade Triplett
We haven’t cured influenza yet, but we can help keep you from getting it. That also makes it a great time to remind you to get your flu vaccine if you haven’t done so already; call Monongalia County Health Department’s Clinical Services at 304-598-5119 to make an appointment.
In general, we prevent the spread of other diseases, promote health, protect the public and generally make the world a safer and more pleasant place to live.
National Health Education Week, presented by the Society for Public Health Education, began on Monday. The observation focuses on a different health topic each weekday. These issues are just a drop in the bucket of challenges facing people in today’s world, and they are the ones that the SOPHE leaders have decided deserve your attention in 2018. Here we go:
Monday, Oct. 15—The public health impact of gun violence. In this instance, the focus is on guns kept in the home that children can access. It’s estimated that there are firearms in one-third of United States households with kids 18 and under. Tips include keeping guns and ammunition locked in separate, out-of-the-way locations, with the keys or combinations also hidden. When a gun is not locked up, adult handlers should keep it in their sights. All firearms also should have child-resistant gun locks.
Tuesday, Oct. 16—Health equity and how the impact of inequality impacts us all. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines health equity as every person having the ability to achieve their greatest health potential regardless of socially determined conditions.
This is one of many areas in which MCHD can help. Ways we can do this include our Clinical Services program that provides vaccinations, Pap smears and breast exams, free testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, free and low-cost birth control options and more.
And MCHD Dentistry, our full-service dental practice, takes Medicaid and CHIP, in addition to private insurance and other forms of payment. Patients can also pay on a sliding-scale fee. Also, MCHD Smile Express, our mobile dental unit, just hit the road last month, visiting schools to treat students who do not have a dentist. Avoiding tooth decay also helps combat chronic conditions that negatively impact health.
Wednesday, Oct. 17—Emerging trends in school health. When it comes to school health, SOPHE’s focus is on tobacco use and vaping. In 2015, according to the CDC, 40 percent of West Virginia high school students reported using a tobacco product, while 18.8 percent of them reported smoking cigarettes.
This is a really important topic in West Virginia, where smoking rates tend to top the charts in the U.S. Not only that, some teens have also taken up vaping. E-cigarettes are just another method to deliver nicotine, and the CDC does not consider them safe.
Thursday, Oct. 18—Technology’s impact on health and the emergence of mHealth. This is referring to technological devices that people can wear to detect and monitor certain conditions, such as heart problems, as well as fitness trackers that let users count their steps and monitor their activity. This is a new field that offers a lot of promise. Look for this trend to improve and make a bigger impact in the future.
Friday, Oct. 19—The impact on environmental health. Poor air and water quality can make us sick. This can include asthma, and according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the prevalence of asthma in low-income and minority children in the U.S. is disproportionately higher. Also, there is growing concern that new cases are also arising in adults, particularly in the elderly. Clean air and good medical care are key here.
These topics are just a drop in the bucket compared to all the factors that impact our health. You can learn more at SOPHE.