Friday, May 8, 2009

"When public health is successful, nothing happens."

This is a great article about the "invisible hand" of public health.

"When public health is successful, nothing happens, and therefore there is no news to report. You will never see a headline citing how many people dined in a clean restaurant, avoided an injury or did not contract a sexually transmitted disease. However, when an outbreak such as listeriosis or the H1N1 flu virus occurs, there is panic."

So true! Public health officials deal all the time with the question of how to communicate this message. And it matters for funding, too. How does one communicate that ample funds are needed to prevent something from happening... to make sure that there is no news? In the example of H1N1, this article underscores that the country is prepared. Now, they're talking about Canada, but the same goes for the U.S. Pandemic plans are in place.

The author notes, "in fact, they will continue to promote the best science on how to enhance the health of Canadians, whether with respect to infectious diseases, chronic diseases, injury prevention or environmental health (topics that are not as sexy as pandemics)." Excellent point, Vivek Goel! There are many aspects of public health that are not nearly as exciting as infectious disease and pandemics, but they are hugely important public health issues.

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