An organization’s health programs are intended to improve the physical and psychological well-being of its employees and the local community. They include education, disease prevention and wellness programs. Health programs can also be designed to encourage good health behaviors in people and make them a longstanding part of their lives.
The National Prevention Strategy defines health promotion and disease prevention as “the broadest public health efforts focused on promoting healthy lifestyles, increasing access to affordable quality care, reducing risk factors that contribute to chronic diseases, and preventing premature death.” Disease prevention is generally broken down into two categories: primary and secondary. Primary prevention focuses on avoiding unhealthy lifestyle choices and includes education about the dangers of tobacco use, a healthy diet, and adequate physical activity. Secondary prevention aims to diagnose and treat diseases through evidence-based screening programs and early detection and treatment.
Whether a school health program is considered a primary or secondary prevention program depends on the extent to which the school has a direct influence on modifiable risk behaviors. A school has a direct influence on these behaviors when it provides current, research-based instructional materials and health services that have been shown through basic research and evaluation to produce positive health outcomes.
For example, an elementary school that has a health room and facilities can offer basic first aid, screening tests and education about how to avoid illness and injury. In addition, it can provide nutritional and physical activity services to students. It can also provide training to instructors about how to best support student health.
School-based health services programs are often supervised by a school health director who is either a physician trained in school or child/adolescent health or a registered nurse with a minimum of a baccalaureate degree and special school nursing certification. The director works closely with other in-school professionals and the children’s primary care providers.
Many organizations offer employee health promotion programs that focus on nutrition, physical fitness and worksite safety. These programs can be a great benefit to a business as they can help to increase employee productivity and morale. Additionally, when employees are healthier, they tend to miss less work due to illnesses and injuries. This can lower an organization’s workers’ compensation costs and reduce its health insurance premiums.
NewYork-Presbyterian offers a number of community and population health programs that connect residents with medical care and promote healthy behaviors. These include free vaccinations, neighborhood clinics and education about sexually transmitted diseases and other health issues. The hospital also works globally to eradicate diseases such as Guinea worm, river blindness, lymphatic filariasis and trachoma through innovative public health approaches that are more cost-effective than other methods. These programs can have a powerful impact on the communities they serve. The center is also developing ways to prevent disease in the future by using new drugs and vaccines. These tools can be used to reduce the incidence of disease in resource-limited countries.