Efforts to improve health constitute a wide range of interventions that should be implemented at many levels. For instance, when an individual receives preventive care, eats properly, takes vitamins, goes to the gym, and so forth, this person uses strategies to improve his or her own health. On the other hand, when the government of the country this individual lives in applies the new policy that addresses the climate change, that boosts the general well-being of the population, including the well-being of this particular person. So, that is the health improving strategy as well; it is just implemented at another level. Still, if an individual makes every effort to stay healthy, but the global warming or secondhand smoke exposures, for example, are not fought against, it is harder to make a difference. Therefore, strategies to improve health should be used at every possible level since only in such a way we can maximize the effect.
Policies That Can Improve Public Health
First of all, the health of the population can be improved by many public policies. As Dallas (2012) writes in her article, reviewing nearly a thousand of scientific studies on this topic, interventions implemented at the government level can really help millions of people to stay healthier. Firstly, the state can establish limits for the ads of junk food on TV so children will be less attracted to it (Dallas, 2012). Secondly, the higher level of physical activity in schools, as well as better playgrounds near them, can encourage students to move more, and that will improve their metabolism and prevent overweight (Dallas, 2012). Breaks for physical activity during working hours work in the same way for employees of various organizations. Thirdly, to make people buy healthy foods, healthy products should have more affordable prices. One of the reviews has proved such approach to be effective: if healthy foods are cheaper, people tend to abandon their unhealthy eating habits and develop dietary lifestyles (Dallas, 2012). Eating habits can also be improved by restrictions on particular food ingredients, such as trans fats, certain preservatives, and so forth. Finally, smoking habits should be regulated. Banning smoking in public places and communities will significantly reduce the passive smoking levels. As Collins and Ibrahim (2012) state in their article, more than the half of all children all over the world experience secondhand smoke exposures (SHSe) every day, and that makes then more likely to start smoking by themselves in the future (p. 161). Policies prohibiting smoking in public places can improve that statistic. Besides, due to additional taxes on tobacco products, people will buy less of them and smoke less (Dallas, 2012).
The Role of Health Literacy
Another important thing that affects the health of every individual, as well as the well-being of the community as the whole, is health literacy. The Institute of Medicine defines this term as “the degree to which individuals can obtain, process, and understand the basic information and services they need to make appropriate health decisions” (Federico, 2014, par. 1). Inadequate health literacy has many adverse consequences, starting with the lack of preventive care needed to stay healthy and ending with poor self-care and inappropriate treatment (e.g. polypharmacy). The reason people are not literate in this regard is that medical information is not so simple. Moreover, even though there is plenty of the information on the Internet presently, the half of it is not entirely correct, and the other half is too complicated, even for those with advanced health literacy skills. Doctors do not make the situation much easier as well. For instance, they often speak their own language with patients, forgetting that they do not know specific terms, and that generates misunderstanding. To increase health literacy of their patients, physicians should use simple language (“fats” instead of “lipids”, “belly” instead of “abdomen”, etc.), talk more slowly, ask patients if they understand and can read prescription labels, and so forth (Federico, 2014, par. 4). If people are more aware of their own health, patient outcomes are significantly better (Federico, 2014).
Things That Everyone Should Do
Finally, every individual can regularly do simple things to monitor their health and adequately maintain it. First of all, we can eat healthier and limit the amount of junk foods we consume. That does not mean that junk food should be abandoned at all since it may too difficult for a person used to it to stop eating French fries or hamburgers once and for all. However, our food can and should be healthier. For example, more fruits and vegetables should be added to the daily ration, alcohol beverages should be minimized, and so on. It is also important to check out weight and exercise regularly (Ten ways to boost your health, 2014). Finally, good sleep is imperative. Additionally, bad habits should be abandoned (Ten ways to boost your health, 2014).
To conclude, public health is everyone’s responsibility, from the President to a common person. Working hard at every possible level, we can make a difference and improve the general well-being of the population.
Collins, B. N., & Ibrahim, J. (2013). Pediatric Secondhand Smoke Exposure: Systematic Multilevel Strategies to Improve Health. Global Heart, 7(2), 161-165.
Dallas, M. E. (2012). Web.
Federico, F. (2014). Web.
Ten ways to boost your health. (2014). Web.