The Millstone Times April 2022

Monroe Township News | As We Age

The Importance of Health Educators By Bianca Battaglia The public health system is a complex network of various agencies and entities, both within the private and public sectors, that collaborate at the national, state, and local levels and work to ensure the overall health and well-being of the community. The two main goals of the public health system are to focus on the overall health of the population, as opposed to the health of the individual, and to prevent disability and disease. To do this, public health professionals in all areas of society—nurses, teachers, fire fighters, police officers, dentists, teachers, epidemiologists, nutritionists, and lawyers—utilize their specialized knowledge to contribute to the effectiveness of the public health system. However, when it comes to keeping the population up-to-date and informed on developments in public health, public health educators are the invisible and often under-appreciated individuals whose work is integral in preventing the spread of disease and keeping the people healthy. Health educators heighten awareness about potential health risks, make health information understandable to the general population, and develop educational programs encouraging the public to practice new behaviors that will help them maintain proper health. Furthermore, health educators actively promote good hygiene and encourage sanitary practices. Additional tasks carried out by health educators include strategically designing and implementing educational interventions, advocating for and promoting public health policies, administering and managing quality educational programs, researching and evaluating the community’s needs, and serving as a valuable health resource for the communities that they serve. Health educators do not usually work directly with the public, but their work is vital in improving the health of the diverse groups and populations that make up our country. Health educators are one of the primary staff members in the public health workforce, and in order to develop comprehensive and effective educational campaigns, health educators analyze data in a variety of demographic categories and utilize that information to target specific areas where public health issues are prevalent. In fact, health educators can specialize in a myriad of areas, including intellectual health, physical health, emotional health, environmental health, spiritual health, and social health. Recognizing the value of health educators is especially relevant in the modern era given the Covid-19 pandemic. Public health relies on collaboration and organization, and is a community effort, but when people are not properly educated on health issues, it can place innocent lives unnecessarily at risk. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, public health educators have worked tirelessly to raise awareness about the transmission and dangers of the virus, promote mask-wearing and social distancing guidelines in public places, and educate the general populace about the benefits of becoming vaccinated. To that end, the current pandemic emphasizes the need for health educators now more than ever. While cooperation among all sectors of the public health system is important in having a successful public health infrastructure, public health educators ultimately play a fundamental role in ensuring the health and safety of the overall population.

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