From news that is flooded with statistics regarding the current COVID 19 pandemic, to trackings and quickly-updated health regulations, many have received a glimpse of what “public health” looks like- specifically “epidemiology.” According to CDC’s definition, public health is “the science of protecting and improving the health of people and their communities.” While medicine focuses on the health of the individuals by working at the forefront to treat patients, public health takes a broader approach, focusing on the well being of bigger populations.
From personal hygiene, disease prevention and detection, laboratory research, and health education to government policies, public health works to protect and improve the well-being of all individuals in a community. Public health covers multitudinous topics- not everything is about deadly viruses!
Intrigued by the works of public health officials combating the current pandemic, I spent this summer delving deeper, to understand its wide scope of valuable endeavors. The 8-week Public Health Youth Leaders Program, hosted by the Department of Public Health Pomona Wellness Center, went over diverse topics of public health: disease intervention and tracking, health disparities and health equity, homelessness, vector-borne diseases, climate change, obesity and more. The program enabled me to meet public health officials who are advocating, researching, and educating the community. Indeed, they are the hidden heroes working behind the scenes, surveillancing the populations in order to be ready to respond to major outbreaks and everyday health concerns. Inspired by their dedicated works, students came up with feasible project proposals to address the challenges many face as, well as discover opportunities to become involved in public health services.
The most mind-blowing session was when the students, as youth public health leaders, listened to Elizabeth Traub- an epidemiologist at the Department of Public Health- speak about the constant unwavering endeavors to monitor the spread of coronavirus. I never knew about such intricate steps epidemiologists take to control infectious diseases like COVID 19. Society often only appreciates the doctors and nurses, yet works of the public health officials go unnoticed. They are working day and night in order to bring us back to “normal”, despite the unpredictable future.
Every person can all contribute to a collective effort to fight the pandemic. Awareness about public health and following the guidelines given by the Center for Disease Control, the most prominent public health agency, lies upon our responsibility not just for our own good, but for everyone’s lives.