The Importance of Health Programs

health programs

Health programs focus on specific efforts aimed at preventing disease and encouraging healthy behaviors in a population. They address the social determinants of health, which are the economic, environmental, cultural and political conditions that influence an individual’s ability to make healthy choices. Examples of these conditions include poverty, lack of access to affordable food and safe housing, and stress. Health promotion programs aim to improve health behavior through education, training and counseling. Disease prevention programs target modifiable risk behaviors such as smoking, poor nutrition and physical inactivity.

Unlike clinical professionals, who concentrate on treating the sick and injured after they are already in the hospital or clinic, those in public health work to prevent problems from occurring or recurring through educational programs, recommending policies, administering services and conducting research. Their goal is to maximize human health so that society can achieve its most cherished values, such as children growing up and learning well, workers being productive, adults maintaining a level of independence, and all individuals being able to age with dignity and respect.

Public health organizations need partners from a wide range of sectors in society to help them develop long-term, sustainable initiatives that will have maximum impact on the health of a population. This includes government agencies, schools, business, law enforcement, transportation, agriculture and labor. The greatest strength of public health lies in its singular focus on maximizing health so that all groups can realize their fullest potential, including ensuring that all people have access to quality healthcare.

The design of a health program requires a complex interplay of ideals, realities and constraints. The ideal is that public health programs provide high-quality, comprehensive, evidence-based information to encourage and empower all groups in society to live as healthy as possible. The reality is that resources, management systems, behavioral change and societal priorities will often limit the impact of even the most well-designed programs.

Training and education are essential to the effectiveness of health programs. Paraprofessionals and other health professionals who are not familiar with the specialized body of knowledge, skills, theories and research that define health education will not be effective with their clients or communities. Colleges and universities offer undergraduate and graduate (Masters and doctorate) degrees in health education, school health, community health, and other related fields. Certification as a Certified Health Education Specialist is available through the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing. This organization also sets standards for professional development and certification in the field. The requirements for certification are rigorous and are intended to ensure that health education professionals have the necessary specialized knowledge, skills, and abilities to be effective in their roles. They are also expected to maintain their credentials. For example, continuing education and competency assessments are required for renewal of the CHES credential.

Previous post Medical Treatment
Next post The Relationship Between Health Outcomes and Quality of Health Care