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An essay authored by HU Population Health Nursing Professor Dr. Nancy Mimm appeared on PennLive today, which marks the start of National Public Health Week.

The essay, titled, “It takes a village to raise a child?” It takes a community to Improve Population Health,” can be found below:

“It takes a village to raise a child?” It takes a community to Improve Population Health. 
By Nancy Mimm

Despite the enormous progress we have made since the 1900s, a child born in the United States was expected to live less than 50 years old compared to approximately 80 years old in today’s period; to put it another way, a child born in the 1900s had a 10% chance of dying in the first year of life as did their mother dying in childbirth. Over the last several decades, we have reduced the death rate from coronary artery disease by half, cut smoking rates by 50%, and dramatically reduce deaths from motor vehicle injuries per miles traveled. However, we are nowhere close to where we need to be to improve the health of the people living in the Commonwealth.  

Population health has rapidly become the overarching umbrella for concepts used to integrate traditional public health, clinical health care, and public policy interventions into health care systems. It builds on health care, traditional public health, and public policy intervention to improve population health outcomes.  

The good news is that we are headed in the right direction to improve health and create everyone’s opportunity to live their healthiest life. Here at HU, the university has invested in creating programs to be a part of the solution by educating students in population health methods. As we celebrate National Public Health Week from April 05 – April 11 this year, we are focused not only on celebrating the past but also on improving the future.  

The population health faculty at HU are acutely aware that achieving the next great milestones in the public health of the Commonwealth and for the whole of the United States will require collaboration across all sectors of society, from hospitals, healthcare organizations, businesses, education, environmental agencies, housing, transportation, community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, industries, insurance companies, workforce development agencies, cybersecurity, and government (state and federal).

We at HU urge that this year for the National Public Health Week celebration lets illuminate these vital collaborations between health and socioecological factors such as education, economic stability, justice, law and order, inclusion and diversity, antiracism, and political representation. We all can work together to better population health and prevent vulnerable populations from falling into the traps of disparity and inequity.  

We hope that National Public Health Week will spark a statewide and nationwide conversation about inclusive and collaborative population health and about what it means to create healthy people and communities. Focusing solely on clinical care and individual health with the best medical care in the world will not solve our pressing health problems; we need a collective community effort to address this challenge. If not anything, this global pandemic has certainly taught us the value of life, the value of collective effort, and countless other ways the public health system improves our lives. We all need to commit as a society to examine the many social factors that lead to health disparities and inequities at the country level and the state, county, and community level. We all can collectively intervene at pivotal points to reduce health disparities, foster health equity, and improve population health outcomes. 

This National Public Health Week gives us that opportunity to build on this conversation and change the trajectory of our conversation from just individual health to population health, from clinical health to community health and build a path towards health and opportunity for all. Let us all lead together to create the healthiest and equitable future for all.  

Dr. Nancy Mimm is Assistant Professor, Nursing Population Health at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, which offers a master’s degree in nursing and an online RN-to-BSN program. 

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