Building community and public health capacity for change

March Health Awareness Campaigns

National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
Brain Injury Awareness Month
National Kidney Cancer Awareness Month
Awareness Month for Multiple Sclerosis
National Myeloma Awareness Month
National Nutrition Month
National Endometriosis Month
Month for Eye Health in the Workplace
National Save Your Vision Month
Hemophilia month
National Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness Month
American Red Cross Month
Learning Disabilities Awareness Month
National Developmental Disabilities Awareness month
National Eye Donor Month
National Poison Prevention Month
National Professional Social Work Month
Save Your Vision Month
These topics will not be new to those working in community health or public health. However, busy professionals like us often find it useful to recall the fundamental principles of our chosen fields. In our rush to get work done, it’s easy to forget the core values that drive us.

A growing number of evidence-based strategies can be used by public and community health professionals to improve health and prevent diseases. These practices can improve the environment, behavior, and overall health in communities. Public health agencies and community partners often require additional tools, strategies and training in order to implement these practices.

Most effective prevention strategies involve the communities they are meant to serve. Communities must identify, plan, channel, and act on resources and opportunities for health promotion and social change to improve their health. It is not a new idea that a community can solve its own problems. Community-based interventions are supported by a lot of people. They can improve the health and well-being of members of the community. In the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, Sotomayor and Pawlik state that community-based interventions are essential because of the high rates of chronic diseases and health disparities in minorities, especially those who are poor or lack community resources. [Sotomayor and Pawlik: 2007]

Healthy People 2020 by the U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion aims to

Identify national health improvement priorities.
Increase public awareness and understanding about the determinants and consequences of health, disability, and other factors that can impact on progress.
Set measurable goals and objectives that can be applied at all levels, including the State and local.
Get involved in multiple sectors to improve policies and practices.
Identify the critical research, evaluation and data collection requirements.
Many local leaders are important in building community health, according to health promotion and prevention consultants. The Healthy People 2020 toolkit Identifying & Engaging Community Partners answers the question, “How do you define meaningful citizen participation?” This is how it works:

The ability to influence outcomes and make decisions
Citizen-driven; From the community up, and not from the top down
Be proactive, not reactive
Facilitates and encourages wide community involvement
Accessible to everyone, but not just those who are eligible
Participation process should have balanced representation, not just “partners”.
Consensus-oriented Decision Making Compromise
There are many opportunities to get involved in all levels of activity. This includes creating a vision and prioritizing activities, deciding, and evaluating [ODPHP 2010]
It can take time to build strong relationships with community partners. Facilitating meetings that allow meaningful participation is a skill that requires practice. This is where a community consultant can be very valuable. Although each community health consultant will be different, they will all have extensive experience in the following areas:

Develop health education and promotion programs such as workshops, presentations to schools or communities, trainings, and so forth.
To address public health concerns, writing and formatting health education materials such as bulletins and reports.
Establishing working relationships with organizations and agencies interested in public healthcare.
Conducting evaluations in order to evaluate the performance and quality of education and health communication programs.
Collaboration with community groups, public health officials and other health professionals to identify and provide services.
Write press releases, public service announcements, conduct media campaigns or maintain program-related Web pages.
To develop grant proposals for funding health education programs and related work.

 

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