What I know about Community Health
I would define community health as the combined efforts and programs available within a community to promote good health and protect the community from major health risks. This would include all programs designed to provide medical services to the poor, provide health information to people who are at risk, provide standard and emergency health care, monitor health trends, track and report contagious diseases, and plan for major medical situations such as endemics and pandemics.
The agencies that I am familiar with that are involved in community health include the American Red Cross, which runs blood banks and assists people in time of crises, and the county health board, which helps provide health care to the poor and track and report communicable diseases. There are also the different hospitals and clinics that provide a variety of medical care to members of the community. I believe that there are also charitable organizations that help with health care awareness and community outreach programs. Planned Parenthood may also be included in community healthcare.
Epidemiology is the study of communicable diseases. It would include studying and tracking all sexually transmitted diseases as well as viral and bacterial diseases like Ebola, Bubonic Plague, Anthrax, etc. Epidemiology would also focus on how diseases spread, how they can be contained and eradicated, and how to protect communities from deadly outbreaks.
Social determinants are all of the factors that must be considered in community health planning. A community with a large percentage of undereducated poor people may see a higher percentage of sexually transmitted diseases than a more well-to-do, higher educated community. A small town well off the interstate will be less at risk for a major pandemic than a major metropolitan city because they will tend to see fewer travelers. Highly mobile populations will be more at risk than more sedate populations for many airborne diseases. Towns with large livestock populations such a major meat packing facilities may be at higher risk for animal borne diseases that urban areas.
Other social determinants could include factors like hereditary issues. Some races may be genetically vulnerable to some illnesses or diseases. A higher than normal population of elderly and/or infants in a community is another social determinant that can impact community health in the event of a major flu outbreak. Wealth and income is another social determinant. The extremely poor will be more reluctant to seek medical attention when ill than more affluent people who have health care plans. Area industries can also be considered social determinants since they may be affecting the quality of air and water in the area. All of these social determinants are important when planning for community health and can make each individual community a unique challenge for planners.
I have never been involved in the planning of a health promotion program but I am interested in learning all there is to know about community health programs so that I can make a difference somewhere in the future.