ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. --
After more than a year of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Public Health Association chose “Building Bridges to Better Health” as its theme for the 26th anniversary of National Public Health Week, celebrated April 5 - 11.
The goal of NPHW is to strengthen communities and raise public health awareness, which falls right in line with the Army Public Health Center’s goal to support active living through the promotion of readiness and resilience.
“The last year has been challenging for all of us,” said George Benjamin, APHA executive director. “We know public health needs public support, now more than ever. We don’t need to get back to where we were -- we need to create connections and listen to community leaders who will help us build a strong society that prioritizes health for everyone.”
Each day of NPHW will focus on a different piece of the bridges that connect us.
- Monday: Rebuilding
- Tuesday: Advancing Racial Equity
- Wednesday: Strengthening Community
- Thursday: Galvanizing Climate Justice
- Friday: Constructing COVID-19 Resilience
- Saturday: Uplifting Mental Health and Wellness
- Sunday: Elevating the Essential Health Workforce
Throughout the week, APHC will be promoting these themes, which also align with some of the areas of focus for the 2020 Health of the Force report, expected to be released this spring.
“The Army is actively working to identify health disparities by race and ethnicity to acknowledge these important differences,” said Dr. Matt Beymer, Health of the Force editor. “Through identification and subsequent action, we can create a healthier and more ready Force.”
Since the Army’s inception, Army Public Health professionals have focused public health efforts on building partnerships. In their work with installations and military medical treatment facilities, Army public health experts advise commanders and leaders about a broad range of public health initiatives and preventive actions. All have the same basic goals of encouraging healthy behaviors and standardizing public health efforts according to best practices (methods that have evidence to support their use).
APHC’s efforts in the COVID-19 pandemic response included supporting and advising the Army and DOD senior leaders, important COVID-19 lab testing, and communicating COVID-19 health information to Soldiers and their families. Much of the COVID-19 focus now is supporting continued healthy practices and the vaccination effort for the Department of Defense, Services and the public.
“We can each make a difference and protect ourselves and others by wearing a well-fitted mask, staying at least 6 feet from others who don’t live with you, avoiding crowds and travel, and getting vaccinated when it’s available,” said Army Col. Jennifer McDannald, APHC’s director.
“We hope that, each day, you’ll see how you fit into building stronger, healthier communities,” said Benjamin. “We hope you’ll join in! Public health needs the public if it’s going to be successful.”
The Army Public Health Center enhances Army readiness by identifying and assessing current and emerging health threats, developing and communicating public health solutions, and assuring the quality and effectiveness of the Army’s Public Health Enterprise.