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Improving Public Health. Leading Health Indicators

Introduction

Health care of the citizen is a major concern of every developed country. Hence researchers and policy makers need to focus on implementing new policies in the field of health which would assist the public to live a healthier life now and in the future. Though health care system in United States is comparatively of a higher standard, there are certain areas where improvement is needed and comprehensive policies can adequately address these issues.

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Key Policy Recommendations

The following are the key policy recommendations pertaining to the areas of creating a national goal, tobacco control and reducing obesity.

Set national goal

Establishing a national goal for health improvement is vital in providing direction to any programs organized either in a broader scenario or in smaller community level which are designed to ensure public health. The need of such a goal is emphasized by Ronald M Davis in his article in British medical journal where he says, “Adoption of health objectives at the national (or international) level can encourage the adoption of health objectives in smaller jurisdictions, tailored to local needs and circumstances.” (Davis, 1998).

The main areas that should be given priority while setting a national goal are improving life expectancy and ensuring parity in health care. Life expectancy in America is found to be lower than many other countries. Also there exists wide disparity in health care between people of different race, gender, ethnicity, education, income etc. These two main goals are set by ‘Healthy people 2010’. (Davis, 2000).

Tobacco control

Since the tobacco-related deaths are very high in America and medical cost totals a minimum of $50 billion per year, there should be comprehensive policy to curtail its over use is the need of the hour. (Leading health indicators, n.d.).

Reducing Obesity

Another great health risk is obesity. Reduction of obesity is imperative in health improvement of people in United States. Providing proper awareness about impact of obesity and enough facilities to enhance physical health is a solution that can be applied to solve this issue.

Determinants of health

There are so many factors which affect the health of the people in the community. Environment and circumstances can produce powerful impacts on the health of an individual. Our living conditions, genetics, environment, income, education, behavior, and relationships also have great impact on the health conditions of individuals in the society. In short, behavior, genetics, environment and social factors can be considered as major components that influence the health of individuals in a society.

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Environment

The environment can be considered as a major factor which determines the health of people. Physical environment includes safe water, clean air, safe houses, communities and roads. These have a great impact on people’s health. If an individual has a better physical environment, he will have good health because good health depends upon all these factors. Working conditions can also make positive or negative effects on the health of individuals in the society.

Social factors

Economic and social conditions determine the health of the people. Employment provides higher income and better health attitudes. Higher income and social status play an important role in providing good health to people, because when income of an individual increases, his health care attitudes also improve. The level of education can also be considered as the social determinants of health. Families, friends, customs and traditions and society influence the health of people. When a person gets more support from his family, friends, and society, he can maintain a better health. Parents have a significant role in providing better health to their children.

Genetics

The genetic factors also affect the health of people. Inheritance has a major role in building or loosing health. The gene-transformation, the amount of chromosomes also affects the health of people. The gene-environment interactions help to maintain and initiate the risk behavior, such as tobacco use, unhealthy eating behavior, and so on. Some diseases sometimes pass from parents to children genetically; so these types of diseases caused by gene also affect people’s health.

Behavior

The social environment and culture influence the health behavior. The risk of disease can be reduced through a positive behavior to some extent. If a person dies, there is a chance of the neighbors becoming aware of the disease. Sometimes a positive behavior can be formed from an incident. The behavior, such as tobacco smoking, drug use, alcohol consumption, and lack of exercise can be reduced through changing behaviors. There would be different health behaviors for introvert and extrovert. An introvert will have his own life styles that affect his health just like an extrovert. Stress also affects health i.e. how an individual handles stress affects his health. In short, the entire behavior of an individual including good and bad, such as balanced eating, smoking, drinking, taking bath and so on affects the health of the people. (The determinants of health, 2009).

The future public health system in America

Truest for America’s Health report showed that the people in America suffer from many health problems and made important suggestions for improving the healthy life of the people in America. Diseases like obesity, diabetes, and infant mortality are relatively high in America. Children suffer from birth defects and developmental disabilities and 20% of pre-school children don’t get vaccination on time. Chronic diseases such as cancer, asthma, Parkinson, and alzhmers are responsible for many deaths. People in America suffer from food borne diseases, Pandemic influenza, AIDS, SARS. Globalization, high drug resistance and climate change are responsible for the infectious diseases in America. Rising cost of health care becomes the main issue in America. Truest for America’s Health underline top ten priorities, which include fight against obesity epidemic, resist tobacco use, tackle infectious diseases, be ready for urgent health needs, and be aware of terrorism attacks. The report stresses on understanding the relation and opposition between Health and U.S economy, protecting the nation’s food supply, understanding the health care needs of old people, developing the health of economically backward groups, reducing the environmental problems and developing the tool against disease prevention. It recommends that Government should give more importance to the protection of the health of Americans. (The hill white papers, 2009).

The ‘Healthy people 2010’ aims at improving the health of every people, and nation’s health. ‘Healthy people 2010’ approach considers the health condition of the people in the country. The main objective of ‘Healthy people 2010’ is to increase the life expectancy and life quality of the people by acquiring knowledge, inspiration and chances to make decision about their health. Quality of life includes pleasure and satisfaction derived from one’s life and surroundings. It encourages the leaders in state and community to promote good behavior and introduce better environments and provide health care system. It aims to reduce the health disparities between men and women, differences of health between different races, and inequality in income and education. More attention should be given to disabled people. (A systematic approach to health improvement, n.d.).

Leadership

A remarkable quotation from the Article, ”Leadership Affects Health And Well Being At Work” which says about a research evidence that recommends “good leadership has positive effects on employee health and well-being, including decreased sick leave and disability.” (Leadership affects health and well being at work, 2009). It is the reports from the August Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

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Leadership has a positive effect on the health and well being of employees. If an organization has employees with sufficient leadership, then it can produce better performance with the available resources because the person who has leadership qualities can motivate and stimulate the employees more effectively. Similarly, in case of a nation, the citizens with high leadership qualities can produce effective health conditions in a nation.

When concluding, one can infer that the above mentioned factors assume elite part of healthcare and a good leadership is integral in achieving the desired effect. There should be actions to improve the healthcare. It has often been seen that genetics, behavior, environment and society exert tremendous influence in one’s health.

References

A systematic approach to health improvement. (n.d.). Healthy People 2010. Web.

Davis, R M. (1998). Education and debate: “Healthy People 2010”: National health objectives for the United States. BMJ, 317 (7171), 1513-1517. BMJ.

Davis, R M. (2000). Healthy people 2010: Objectives for the United States: Impressive, but unwieldy. British Medical Journal, 320 (7238), 818-819. Pub Med Central.

Leadership affects health and well being at work. (2009). Medical News Today. Web.

Leading health indicators: Tobacco use. (n.d.). Healthy People 2010. Web.

The hill white papers: Trust for America’s health (TFAH). (2009). The Hill. Web.

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The determinants of health. (2009). World Health Organization. Web.

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