Most people think of local health departments when considering public and community health status. While local health departments do have a responsibility to protect and promote health and to prevent disease and injury to members of the community, I see this responsibility as one that every agency, organization, service provider and community-based group shares.
Public health services focus on improving the health of the population, local public health services concentrate on community health by supporting and partnering with health care providers. That is from the traditional public health perspective. An expanded perspective of health and health promoting services extend to community resources that may not be directly health-related but contribute to the physical, social, financial and environmental wellbeing of the community and its members.
The World Health Organization defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not only the absence of disease or disability. To me, that applies a health connection to every community service.
How is a local bank contributing to the financial health of the community? What is the local gym doing to promote and protect the health of every community member? Where is the local attorney’s office demonstrating a commitment to empower and represent the best interest of the community and its members? How is the local computer repair shop contributing to the social community needs and what is the local landscape company doing to protect environmental health? Every business, organization, agency or service provider can contribute the health of the community and therefore invest in itself.
The core functions of public health services can be divided into three domains. These are Assessment, Policy Development and Assurance. Any program or service must assess the health of the community from the perspective of the service function, develop and implement strategies to advocate for the service-related health and wellbeing of the community and assure that community needs are being met through available programs and resources.