Since 1965, the first full week of April has been declared National Public Health Week. Communities across the United States have observed National Public Health Week as a time to recognize the contributions of public health and highlight issues that are important to improving our nation.
Each year, NPHW focuses its effort on a different theme, and this year’s theme is “Public Health is ROI (Return on Investment). Save Lives, Save Money”. The 2013 NPHW theme was developed to highlight the value of prevention and the importance of well-supported public health systems in preventing disease, saving lives and curbing health care spending. This year, we are recognizing the work of public health and its significant return on investment by honoring Board of Health Members that have served on Boards for over 20 years and those who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in Public Health. This event will be held on April 4th at the Fair Lawn Community Center.
Paramus Health Officer Judith Migliaccio stated that during the last 100 years, the health and life expectancy of persons residing in the United States has improved dramatically. “Since 1900, the average lifespan of persons in the United States has lengthened by greater than 30 years, and 25 years of this gain are attributable to advances in public health”. The Federal Centers for Disease Control cites the ten great public health achievements of the last century as follows:
• Motor-vehicle safety
• Safer workplaces
• Control of infectious diseases
• Decline of deaths from coronary heart disease and stroke
• Safer and healthier foods
• Healthier mothers and babies
• Family planning
• Fluoridation of drinking water
• Recognition of Tobacco as a health hazard
“The dedicated work of public health professionals during the past century has resulted in dramatic improvement of the health status and quality of life of all Americans”, Migliaccio said. She cautioned, however, that although the United States spends more on health care than any other nation, we are not as healthy as we should be. She cited statistics which indicate that 25% or 60 million Americans, 20 years and older are obese and 9 million children and teens between the ages of 6 and 19 are overweight. It is the #2 cause of preventable death in the United States. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of health conditions and diseases including Breast cancer, Coronary heart disease, Type II diabetes, Sleep apnea, gallbladder disease, Osteoarthritis, Colon cancer, Hypertension and Stroke.
“We have the potential to greatly improve our population’s health in the future,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, Executive Director of APHA. “By recommitting ourselves to support our nation’s public health system, we can build on the successes of the past and establish the solid foundation needed for a healthy nation.”
In celebrating National Public Health Week, Migliaccio reminds Paramus residents that her department is an important resource for health screenings and referrals. Services offered by the Paramus Board of Health include immunizations for infants and children, blood pressure and diabetes screenings, adult health counseling and referrals to numerous outside agencies, blood chemistry screenings, cancer screenings, flu and pneumococcal immunizations, among many others.
The Health Officer encourages residents in need of health services to phone the Borough’s public health nurses for all types of health information and referrals. A Health Educator is also available for presentations to community groups on a variety of health topics. The nurses can be reached at 201-265-2100, Ext. 615 or 618.