In the field of health, a program is an organized effort to achieve a specific purpose, such as helping someone stop smoking or lose weight. A more general term for these programs is “health initiatives,” though many have a more formal name, such as “community-based health programs.” The goal of any such initiative is to improve the quality of life of a targeted group of people.
A growing number of health programs focus on addressing the social and environmental factors that influence health. These initiatives are sometimes called “upstream interventions.” In the past, the majority of health care efforts focused on treating disease after it had already developed. The advent of community-based health care programs has shifted the emphasis to prevention.
Many countries around the world are implementing programs that help the poorest members of society get the care they need, particularly in the area of mental health. These initiatives often take the form of community-based groups that assist patients and their families with the everyday aspects of living with a mental illness, such as finding housing, dealing with debt, and providing food, clothing, and transportation.
The application of free market principles and the privatization of public services in Latin America and the Caribbean have resulted in the disappearance of many public health programs and a widening gap in access to health care for the poorest citizens. The result is that, despite high per capita income and advances in medicine, millions of people die each year from preventable and curable diseases in these regions.
A community-based program designed to promote a healthy lifestyle by offering a variety of activities and incentives to encourage participation. Examples include weight loss and stop-smoking programs, as well as exercise classes, financial incentives, and gym memberships. These programs are typically offered through the workplace, although insurance plans may also offer them directly to their enrollees.
Whether or not a health program is effective can be determined by evaluating its outcomes. An evaluation is a process of comparing a program’s expected monetary benefits and costs, such as the amount of money that will be saved by preventing an illness, with its actual costs, including expenses for medical care and lost productivity.
A specialized training program that prepares individuals to serve the needs of underserved populations in a variety of healthcare settings. These professionals are skilled in conducting clinical, community-based, and research activities. In 2013, 77 percent of LEND program graduates were still engaged in work related to maternal and child health at the 5-year mark (HRSA, 2016).