Dr. Willie H. Oglesby on the Importance of Public Health
Unless you’re a working professional in the sector, the average individual doesn’t give a lot of thought to public health or its universal importance. Some may think that public health only refers to providing access to adequate health care to the people who need it. But it’s so much broader in scope.
Clean water and air, healthy food, infectious disease prevention – these are just a few of the areas where public health is of such dire importance to everyone.
“Public health is important now, especially in the wake of the Affordable Care Act,” explained Dr. Willie Oglesby, an associate professor in the Kent St. Department of Public Health. “There is a greater emphasis on prevention and all of the factors that have an effect on morbidity and mortality. Not just clinical factors, but also social, environmental and policy-level factors that influence outcomes. It’s important for public health [professionals] to be at the table because we have a unique skill set that can help achieve overall population health.”
The ACA has introduced a number of public health benefits, according to Healthline. Some of these include significantly lower prices on prescription drugs, no denial of insurance for people with pre-existing conditions, and more importantly, the ACA saw more than 16 million Americans sign up for health insurance within the first five years of the programs existence.
However, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation wrote that one of most positive benefits of the ACA is that it would allow public health programs to reach those who need them most. In addition, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services highlighted the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which aims to maintain and expand national investments for public health care improvements.
“There is a lot to learn as we make this transformation to achieve better health and better value for our health investment. A transformed public health system is an essential element of that change,” the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation quoted Dr. Georges Benjamin of the American Public Health Association. The importance of public health and its advancement cannot be understated. As the population in the U.S. and across the globe continues to expand, the health and wellbeing of humanity at large should be everyone’s concern and there are a variety of areas where more help is needed.
“Some [public health professionals] work in hospitals, health departments, nonprofit advocacy organizations, as legislative aids drafting [public health] legislation and policy,” said Dr. Oglesby explaining the different business areas where students with a master’s degree in public health can make an impact.
A career in public health can be extremely self-gratifying for those striving to make a difference in this vitally important sector.