Washington, D.C., April 1, 2013
– The American Public Health Association and its partners kick off National Public Health Week today, an annual health observance dedicated to celebrating the extraordinary contributions of public health. This year’s theme — “Public Health is ROI: Save Lives, Save Money” — highlights the important return on investments made in public health that prevent disease, save lives and curb health care costs.
“Public health is vital to our well-being, from the food we eat to the air we breathe, from our own personal health to the effectiveness of our nation’s health system,” said Georges Benjamin, MD, executive director of APHA. “National Public Health Week is an exciting opportunity for us to join hundreds of our partners in communities across the country to underscore the value of public health, its positive impact on our lives and the importance of advocating for strong public health systems.”
Each day of NPHW highlights a different role public health plays in our everyday lives:
Monday, April 1: Ensuring a Safe, Healthy Home for Your Family: From groceries to smoke detectors to air filters, public health impacts our safety and well-being at home.
Tuesday, April 2: Providing a Safe Environment for Children at School: From cafeteria choices to emergency preparedness plans, public health keeps kids healthy and safe at school so they can focus on their education.
Wednesday, April 3: Creating a Healthy Workplace: From smoke-free workplace laws to reminders to wash our hands, we can thank public health for a job well done.
Thursday, April 4: Protecting You While You're on the Move: From policies that promote child safety seat standards to sidewalks and bike paths that connect us to more places, public health moves with us throughout the day.
Friday, April 5: Empowering a Healthy Community: From immunizations to playgrounds to maternal health programs, public health makes every community a healthier, safer place to be.
The theme of public health’s return on investment is critical particularly during a time of budget pressures. The United States spends far more on health care than any other country, with such costs rising tenfold from 1980 to 2010 and expected to rise faster than national income during the foreseeable future. However, public health’s return on investment is high: Investing just $10 per person each year in proven, community-based public health efforts could save the nation more than $16 billion within five years. That’s a $5.60 return for every $1 invested. And each 10 percent increase in local public health spending contributes to a 6.9 percent decrease in infant deaths, a 3.2 percent decrease in cardiovascular deaths, a 1.4 percent decrease in deaths due to diabetes and a 1.1 percent decrease in cancer deaths.
“Everyone benefits from public health and prevention programs. Yet, despite its incredible return on investment — measured in lives and money saved and improved quality of life – public health continues to bear the burden of funding cuts,” said Benjamin. “It is imperative that programs and policies that support public health are adequately funded and remain in place.”
In 1995, former President Bill Clinton proclaimed the first full week of April as NPHW. Each year since then, the public health community has celebrated this observance by focusing on an issue that is important to improving the public's health. For information on NPHW events taking place in your area, visit http://www.nphw.org/events.