April 6-14 has been designated as National Public Health Week. Public health plays a vital role in communities all over the world. This year National Public Health Week focuses on the health status of our nation, community, workplaces, schools and homes.

April 6-14 has been designated as National Public Health Week. Public health plays a vital role in communities all over the world. This year National Public Health Week focuses on the health status of our nation, community, workplaces, schools and homes.

Our nation’s health is in poor shape, and America spends more on health care than any other country.

For example;

A baby born in the United States is more likely to die before its first birthday than a child born in almost any other developed country.

 

America is among the top 10 countries that have the most people living with HIV/AIDS, and it is estimated that one in 20 residents in the nation’s capital are HIV- positive.

 

Wide disparities persist with ethnic minority populations having nearly eight times the death rate for key health conditions, such as diabetes.

 

Obesity rates are at 36 percent nationally.


Public health issues are everywhere we look. The Independence Health Department is committed to preventing the spread of disease, making sure neighborhoods are free from trash and debris, ensuring that our food resources are safe to eat, and providing animals a chance to live in loving homes. We teach many classes ranging from the very young to seniors. We do all of this in the name of public health.

In 2008 more than 5,100 animals went through the Independence Animal Shelter, more than 1,300 were adopted and 840 were returned to owners. A major help to pet owners who loose their pets is the Independence Web page where animals in the shelter have their picture posted on line within one hour of coming into the shelter.

The Code Compliance Division handled more than 9,600 cases last year. The top four violations were trash/rubbish/garbage, weeds, non-operable vehicles, and open storage. This division was awarded the Missouri Municipal League Innovation Award for its Neighborhood Code Compliance Program. The Innovations Awards program showcases municipal projects that demonstrate new approaches for solving municipal problems.

In 2008 more than 12,800 food workers and managers were trained and tested by the Food Division. All restaurants in city were inspected twice and any complaint was followed up within 72 hours. This division works very hard to be sure our food supply is safe.

The Health Promotion division gave flu vaccinations through two drive-through clinics for this flu season.

They continue to monitor all communicable diseases in our community to be sure that the spread of disease is contained and that we do not have to deal with an epidemic. Some of their accomplishments this year have included the initiation of Kid Power and CATCH programs that focus on nutrition education and physical activity for children ages 5-12 years and their families, offering smoking cessation classes, and working for smoke free zones for children.

Two employees of the Health Department were selected as the recipients of the 2008 Susan Paxton Block Public Service Award. The award is given in honor of Susan Block and recognizes a City employee, volunteer or elected official who has demonstrated outstanding public service, valor and job performance with leadership. We are very proud of Kim Gearhart and David Dickerson.

But we must do more as a nation. Everyone has a role to play. Public health does affect your life by bring you vaccines, teaching healthy practices, and providing programs for work, school and community. 

As our new elected officials face off on health reform, a strong public health system is crucial to a solution to a problem. National health policies must ensure that public health professionals and resources can be there when we need them for day-to-day health challenges. After all, public health is the foundation of our health system.

For programs and classes offered by the Independence Health Department log on to www.independencemo.org or call 325-7185