Taking time to celebrate Public Health

L-R, Anna Schenck, Laura Gerald, and Dr. Sandra Greene, Professor of the Practice of Health Policy

L-R, Anna Schenck, Laura Gerald, and Dr. Sandra Greene, Professor of the Practice of Health Policy

Sometimes, public health practice is a little like the electrical grid or the landing gear on an airplane – people don’t think much about it until it’s not there. They take for granted that water will be clean and abundant, that school lunches will be nutritious, that the sources of disease and infection will be identified and destroyed, that public officials will be prepared to take care of us in an emergency.

But practitioners across the state know how much effort goes into protecting and improving the public’s health. And in April, for the past 35 years, the state has recognized the importance of public health programs and services, and the effect they have on the quality of life. On April 17, State Health Director Laura Gerald and other state and local public health leaders joined Gillings School faculty, students and staff to celebrate Public Health Month with a reception at the Carolina Club, the university’s alumni center.

“This month of recognition give us all the opportunity to remind everyone how important public health programs are to our quality of life and how urgently we need to continue support for them,” said Anna Schenck, PhD, Associate Dean for Public Health Practice. “Our event also was a celebration of the collaboration between state, local and academic partners and the amazing work of public health practitioners in our state, who inspire our students, faculty and staff.”

Tom Bridges, Henderson County health director, and Dorothy Cilenti, NCIPH senior investigator

Tom Bridges, Henderson County health director, and Dorothy Cilenti, NCIPH senior investigator

The annual recognition of public health began 35 years ago through the efforts of a private group – many of whom are alumni of our School – called N.C. Citizens for Public Health. The designation of April as “Public Health Month” enables and encourages local and state health departments to sponsor events promoting public health and healthy living.

And although it wasn’t an official part of Public Health Month, three graduate student teams from the School participated in the UNC Science Expo. The expo allowed students to highlight practice-related projects that can have a positive impact on public health. Teams from the Public Health Leadership Program (project management strategy and application course), presented exhibits on nutrition, sexual health and recycling.

Healthy Carolina Kids provided information on nutrition and physical activity benefits. Let’s Talk About It! addressed the lack of free teen-friendly mobile apps with clear, concise and accurate information about pregnancy prevention and STD prevention and protection. ReThink: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle provided information that highlights recyclability of common key recycling facts and the science behind recycling.

Participating students were: Jon Brolund, Marie Callahan, Suja Davis, Zinaida Mahmutefendic, Kaitlin McCormick, Emily Nicholson, Lauren Synder and Janeen Williams.

Last updated May 13, 2013