As November 2018 comes to close, it is a good reminder to practice thankfulness and giving. Public health measures and initiatives over the past twenty years have impacted individual health through a variety of ways.
With the increasing rates of mortality and morbidity attributable to chronic diseases and associated risk factors, including social, economic, and environmental factors, the need to build the capacity of public health professionals is essential. In the current era of public health, there is a call to action need to expand the scope and reach of public health to address all factors that promote health and well-being, including education, transportation, housing, economic development (Fraser, Castrucci, & Harger, 2017). Professional development is an integral component to build capacity to expand the scope and reach of the public health workforce.
This time of year is full of food related memories. Crisp caramel apples, my father’s over the top Thanksgiving desserts, Nana’s Christmas cannoli and my mother’s dry turkey. It’s also a time to reflect and give thanks for what we have but also to recognize that we have a long way to go to ensure that everyone has adequate access to and ability to purchase healthy foods.
Often times I am asked about my work with tribal nations from family, friends, and colleagues and what that work entails. I lead the community engagement efforts with the Collaborative Research Center for American Indian Health (CRCAIH) to help tribes build their research infrastructure. Five tribes, Oglala Sioux Tribe, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, Tribal Nations Research Group with the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Indians. Each tribal nation approaches how they build their infrastructure and capacity in various ways and have partnered with CRCAIH at different times in the last 6 years. What does that mean and why, is usually the follow up question.
Are you making an impact? Knowing the answer to this question can help assess the value and effectiveness of programs and initiatives focused on improving population health, as well as adjust the program or initiatives to make an impact. Is it important to emphasize the importance and value of using evidence-based findings to guide decision-making. Utilization of evidence-based findings provides a platform to guide development and implementation of programs and initiatives, highlighting what works to address issues in specific populations, such as health equity, childhood obesity, skin cancer prevention in youth, or access to healthy foods in rural communities. However, additional data and information is necessary to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of those programs and initiatives. Indicators provide that additional data and information to help determine if a program or initiative is being implemented as expected and outcomes are being achieved (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016).