– Abby Olson, MPH & Becca Lovan, MPH

National Public Health (NPHW) week occurs the first full week of April every year. The week is organized by the American Public Health Association (APHA) and began in 1995. Each year, NPHW has a unique theme designed to educate the public, policymakers, and practitioners about specific public health issues. This year the theme for NPHW is “Centering and Celebrating Cultures in Health”. The purpose of this year’s theme, according to the APHA, is to “ensure everyone, in all cultural communities, has a chance at a long and healthy life” and “[to] address and prevent the underlying causes of poor health and disease risk.” [1] NPHW includes daily topics such as community, violence prevention, reproductive and sexual health, mental health, rural health, accessibility, and food and nutrition.

A contributing factor to each daily theme and a fundamental aspect of public health, are the Social Determinants of Health (SDH). SDH are defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “the non-medical factors that influence health outcomes. They are the conditions and environment in which people are born, grow, work, live and age, and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life.” [2] SDH include health-related factors of communities that can influence health-related behaviors, such as transportation. One of the groups of social determinants of health is social and community context. This domain of SDH focuses on relationships with family, friends, co-workers, and community members that impact an individual’s well-being. Social support and connection are important in any community, and poor connection can lead to poor health outcomes and higher disease risk. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, communities all over the world experienced disconnection and social isolation, resulting in a decline in physical and mental well-being. [3]

Through understanding the SDH, companies and organizations can become an active part of improving the public health in the communities they serve. The principles of public health provide a framework for companies and organizations to better develop and target efforts to support the community. We recognize that it can be challenging to know where to start when it comes to developing and implementing public health informed initiatives, but NPHW is a great opportunity to learn about the many public health tools and professionals available to assist your company or organization.

If you’re interested in learning more about public health or assessing your organizational communities through a public health lens, please contact us at webquestion@cteh.com!