walkingThe American Public Health Association (APHA) is focusing on a holistic approach to wellness during this week, National Public Health Week.

Through this year’s theme, “A Healthier America Begins Today,” NPHW emphasizes preventing disease and promoting wellness by encouraging the public to avoid tobacco use, eat healthier, become more physically active and prevent unintentional injuries. The National Prevention Strategy, the first-ever comprehensive plan developed by a wide array of federal agencies and national experts to improve the health of all Americans across the lifespan, also serves as a centerpiece for this year’s campaign.

This national observance is intended to educate and engage the public, policymakers as well as the public health community on issues that are vital to creating a healthier, stronger nation.

“With nearly 1 million Americans dying every year from diseases that could be prevented, even small preventive changes and community initiatives can make a big difference in living healthier lives,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E), executive director of APHA. “This week, as public health takes center stage, we celebrate the extraordinary achievements of the public health community and recognize that each and every one of us has a role to play in improving the health of ourselves, our families and our communities.”

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) introduced resolutions in Congress recognizing National Public Health Week and the critical role public health can play in preventing premature disability and death.

APHA and hundreds of partners in communities across the country are urging all Americans to take small steps toward preventing disease and injuries, and keeping themselves and their families safe.  

Among the group's themes:

•Active Living and Healthy Eating: Promote healthy choices in your communities, such as bike lanes and farmer’s markets.
•Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs: Identify alcohol and drug use disorders early to reduce high-risk alcohol and drug consumption.
•Communicable Diseases: Encourage proper hand-washing and food preparation habits.
•Reproductive and Sexual Health: Practice safe sex, encourage responsible contraception behavior and promote access to preventive health services.
•Mental and Emotional Well-Being: Refer people with signs of depression and suicidal thinking to appropriate resources and help centers.

Founded in 1872, the APHA is the oldest, largest and most diverse organization of public health professionals in the world. The association aims to protect all Americans and their communities from preventable, serious health threats and strives to assure community-based health promotion and disease prevention activities and preventive health services are universally accessible in the United States. APHA represents a broad array of health providers, educators, environmentalists, policy-makers and health officials at all levels working both within and outside governmental organizations and educational institutions. More information is available at www.apha.org.