Public health is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as “the science of protecting and improving the health of people and their communities.”1 Though COVID-19 is a crisis currently enveloping the globe, there are other public health issues that professionals around the world continue to address, research and raise awareness for. That work is helped by many comprehensive public health resources aimed at further informing both professionals in the field and the general public.
These issues span many disciplines, from ethics to postpartum care and from mental health to public health policy. It is vital for new and veteran public health professionals to have a comprehensive understanding of all of these issues. The following are 10 resources that can accurately and efficiently inform you on the latest developments in the field of public health.
1. The World Health Organization (WHO)
The WHO is at the forefront of public health issues around the globe. In 2019, it set forth a multi-pronged five-year plan, with the goal of "ensuring one billion more people benefit from access to universal health coverage, one billion more people are protected from health emergencies and one billion more people enjoy better health and well-being.” This "triple billion" initiative details the 10 major public health crises the WHO is attempting to address during its five-year initiative.2
The WHO’s innovative approach to a globalized public health and its data-driven presentation make this plan a valuable public health resource.
2. Health Policy Watch—Public Health News
Real-time reporting on public health can be challenging, as it’s often synonymous with reporting without all the facts. Health Policy Watch fills this gap in public health representation in the media, reporting on developments in policy in real time, around the world.
In a recent article for Health Policy Watch, global health reporter David Branigan writes about the most pressing public health issues of 2019, bringing together interviews with representatives from the WHO, non-governmental organizations and a variety of foundations to paint a dynamic picture of public health in the coming year.3
3. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
The AHRQ is "the lead federal agency charged with improving the safety and quality of America's healthcare system."4 It brings together the information, tools and data to help citizens, healthcare professionals and policymakers make informed decisions.
The AHRQ site aggregates multiple sources of information, providing updated news and insights into research, grant funding, emerging developments and data to help answer some of the leading questions in public health.5
4. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—Public Health Policy
The CDC is the division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that focuses on domestic public health. Members of the CDC team are often the first responders in public health crises in the United States.
As such, the CDC website serves as a vital public health resource for its comprehensive information on national policy initiatives, including a significant depth of information on legislation, regulations and national health initiatives. These guidelines govern domestic public health, and help make it possible for public health professionals to operate efficiently and effectively.6
5. The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO)—Public Health Ethics
The NACCHO is dedicated to serving the nation’s local public health departments, and is a leader in providing the professional resources and programs vital to local public health. Over the last 10 years, its work has included partnering with the CDC on a public health ethics program to educate public health professionals around the country.
The program, described in more detail in one article the NACCHO site, outlines how public health professionals can help find a balance between individual rights and the protection of a community, as they’re not always aligned.7 The program trains local health departments, and many of the NACCHO materials are available on its website.
6. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
The HRSA is an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services committed to improving and providing high-quality healthcare for those who are geographically isolated, or economically or medically vulnerable.8
One important article thoroughly lays out HRSA’s priorities,9 including the steps needed to enact change, and descriptions of comprehensive courses of action that HRSA recommends to accomplish those goals.10
7. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)—Postpartum Care
While the main goal of the ACOG is to educate obstetricians and gynecologists, several of its resources cover the critical topic of providing effective postpartum care on a widespread basis.11
In particular, one opinion article clearly lays out comprehensive information about postpartum care, and presents a new structure for approaching maternal mental health, including proposing a “fourth trimester” to assist new mothers and babies in a more comprehensive recovery.12 The “fourth trimester” would entail more than a single encounter with health professionals, ideally creating a much more personalized and optimized postpartum experience.
8. The American Public Health Association (APHA)—Mental Health
The APHA website covers a plethora of public health issues and delivers a wide array of information. It presents an overview of major mental health issues, including processes for caring for the mentally ill, and an analysis of pressing problems arising from the lack of popularized mental health care. Among those issues are gun violence and suicide.
The APHA takes many steps to address plausible steps forward from policy makers, public health agencies and community members.13
9. The Journal of Public Health Management and Practice (JPHMP)—Public Health Information Dissemination
The main focus of the JPHMP is the development of evidence-based public health and the furthering of information dissemination.14 One of their studies on information dissemination15 describes a clear information-practice gap in public health.
It outlines key issues and challenges in public health information dissemination, the implications of these issues, and potential ways to fix them. The article and journal as a whole cover some of the most important aspects of public health, including serving and informing the public.
10. The Public Health Institute (PHI)
The PHI aims to strengthen public health work and build community through its many programs and data-driven papers.16 It works with the private sector, foundations, government and a range of other organizations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to effect change through varied initiatives.
The PHI focuses on a wide variety of topics including addiction, chronic illness, healthcare, environmental health, data, technology and innovation.17
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1. Retrieved on August 11, 2020 from cdc.gov/publichealthgateway/policy/index.html
2. Retrieved on August 11, 2020 from who.int/
3. Retrievedon August 11, 2020 from healthpolicy-watch.news/top-global-health-policy-issues-what-to-watch-in-2019/
4. Retrieved on August 21, 2020 from https://www.ahrq.gov/cpi/about/profile/index.html
5. Retrieved on August 11, 2020 from ahrq.gov/
6. Retrieved on August 11, 2020 from cdc.gov/publichealthgateway/policy/index.html
7. Retrieved on August 11, 2020 from naccho.org/programs/public-health-infrastructure/ethics
8. Retrieved on August 11, 2020 from hrsa.gov/about/index.html
9. Retrieved on August 11, 2020 from https://www.hrsa.gov/about/strategic-plan/index.html
10. Retrieved on August 11, 2020 from hrsa.gov/public-health/index.html
11. Retrieved on August 11, 2020 from https://www.acog.org/about
12. Retrieved on August 11, 2020 from acog.org/en/Clinical/Clinical%20Guidance/Committee%20Opinion/Articles/2018/05/Optimizing%20Postpartum%20Care
13. Retrieved on August 11, 2020 from apha.org/topics-and-issues/mental-health
14. Retrieved on August 11, 2020 from journals.lww.com/jphmp/pages/default.aspx
15. Retrieved on August 11, 2020 from journals.lww.com/jphmp/Fulltext/2018/03000/Getting_the_Word_Out__New_Approaches_for.4.aspx
16. Retrieved on August 11, 2020 from https://www.phi.org/about/
17. Retrieved on August 11, 2020 from phi.org