National Public Health Week is April 6 - 12
BURLINGTON, VT, April 2020. With the COIVD-19 pandemic racing across the country bringing the potential to devastate all aspects of our communities’ infrastructure, economics, and education, it feels a bit anticlimactic to declare that National Public Health Week (NPHW) is April 6 – 12. What an ironic time for the Vermont Public Health Association (VtPHA) to do our duty by recognizing the 25th annual NPHW as sponsored by the American Public Health Association.
For 25 years, communities around the country have recognized NPHW each April to acknowledge the role of public health in promoting a healthy and thriving nation. This year’s theme is "NPHW @ 25: Looking Back, Moving Forward.”
Our original plans to celebrate this week were to outreach to Vermonters about our organization and offer an opportunity to recognize the role of public health in protecting us all every day of every week, all year long. This is the one week out of each year we stop to specifically highlight the role of public health in keeping us all healthy. Normally, we celebrate our accomplishments such as immunizations, public sanitation systems, and decreases in infant and maternal mortality. In more recent years we have framed our work in such concepts as community resiliency and health equity. As part of our planning, we are posting daily fact sheets on our website, www.vtpha.org, about key public health issues using the theme of “Looking Back, Moving Forward.”
But this year, NPHW falls during a massive pandemic being described as the public health threat of the century and being compared to the 1918 “Spanish” flu that affected a quarter of the world’s population. As of this writing, COVID-19 has caused nearly 40,000 deaths worldwide with more than 800,000 cases.
So we will celebrate NPHW by doing what we do best as a public health professionals. We are the experts at disease surveillance. We work with health care delivery systems to prepare a clinical response. We inform policy makers of the latest science and advise the public to help them understand how they can protect themselves and their families. We advise our partners in housing and economics and education to be sure they have the information and awareness needed for them to create safety nets for individuals and families and communities.
This year public health is being tested as never before - and we are up to the challenge. We will learn from COVID-19 and survive with a clearer vision of how to protect our population not only from infectious disease, but also to reinvigorate our work to improve Vermonters access to health and well-being by decreasing the inequities that result from our systems of employment and housing and education and food access. The public relies on us and we will not disappoint.
Sally Kerschner, RN, MSN
President, Vermont Public Health Association
The VtPHA is a statewide membership organization that seeks to positively influence the health of all Vermonters. The VtPHA does this by providing a strong, independent voice for public health in Vermont through advocacy, education, and community engagement, and by bringing together professionals, policymakers, and partners.