Serving the Community Since 1956

Serving the Community Since 1956

Monday, June 2, 2014

Community Health Improvement Week

What is Community Health Improvement Week?

Community Health Improvement Week (June 1-7, 2014) is a national recognition event to raise awareness and increase understanding of community health improvement activities and the people and organizations that lead them.

Established by the Association for Community Health Improvement (ACHI), the week is an opportunity for community health professionals, organizations and coalitions to:  

·        Raise awareness and increase understanding of the vital role of community health improvement strategies, as complementary to but distinct from individual medical care;

·        Demonstrate the value and impact of your organization’s community health initiatives, both within the organization and to community stakeholders; and

·        Celebrate community health professionals in all settings, including hospitals, community health centers, public health agencies and healthy communities coalitions. 

What is community health?

“The term ‘community health’ refers to the health status of a defined group of people, or community, and the actions and conditions that protect and improve the health of the community.”  Community health activities generally include:

·        health promotion – educational, social, and environmental supports for groups or individuals to make changes in behavior;

·        health protection  – the health and safety of the environment, including: avoiding unintentional injuries; ensuring air, water and food safety; ensuring availability of healthy foods; etc.; and

·        health services  – care provision with an emphasis on preventive and primary medical care, public health services and the care and management of chronic diseases. [1]


Why is community health important?

Community health is important first and foremost because health is largely a product of our everyday physical and social environment, and of our behaviors.  Thus, supporting strong health through community interventions, programs and policies is a smart way to have a positive impact. It is complementary to individual medical care.


It has been demonstrated that many of the leading causes of death are “rooted in behavioral choices. Behavioral change is motivated not by knowledge alone, but also by a supportive social environment and the availability of facilitative services.”[2]


It has been estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that 70 percent of premature deaths in the United States are related to health behaviors and the community environment, whereas only 10 percent are due to inadequate access to medical care.  (Genetics accounts for the remaining 20 percent.) 

In addition, community health programs can reduce suffering and save money by helping to prevent health problems and better manage chronic conditions.  The Trust for America’s Health estimates a more than $5.00 return on investment after five years on every dollar spent on prevention.[3] 

[1] Green, Lawrence W.; Mckenzie, James F. "Community Health." Encyclopedia of Public Health. 2002. (March 29, 2013).
[2] McGinnis, , J. Michael, MD, MPP; William H. Foege, MD, MPH. “Actual Causes of Death in the United States.” JAMA. 1993; 270: 2207-2212.
[3] Prevention for A Healthy America: Investments in Disease Prevention Yield Significant Savings, Stronger Communities, Trust for America’s Health, 2008.

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