Nationwide discussions across UK on health care reforms fundamentally overlook the significance of public health principles and the responsibility of public health agencies in improving and maintaining the health of the general public. It is imperative for the community to create and sustain conditions under which its members can be healthy. The duty of maintaining and improving the public’s health is accorded to all sectors of the society more so to the public health agencies. A public health agency refers to an institution that offers health care services such as nursing or therapeutic services either locally or internationally through nurses, physicians, social workers, therapists, and home markers that it recruits and supervises. Public health activities are conducted through several levels ranging from local, national, to global agencies. These organizations share a number of functions including provision of access to health care, policy development, and disease surveillance. Examples of agencies in the UK include European Union (EU), Agency for Health Research and Quality (AHRQ), International Red Cross, and the National Health Service (NHS). Agencies at the international level include World Health Organization and UNICEF.
Roles of WHO
Some of the core functions of WHO in public health include: provision of leadership on crucial health care matters; and participating in partnerships that require joint partnership with other agencies to address global health issues; molding the research agenda and initiating the generation, translation, and conveyance of significant knowledge (World Health Organization, 2014). WHO monitors the health situation and evaluates trends in health care. It also articulates ethical and policy options that are evidence-based.
Good health is a primary concern across Europe. The EU implements its policies to promote public health, promote research in healthcare, and prevent diseases and threats in European citizens.
The National Health Service (NHS)
This is the principal agency in the UK that is charged with the responsibility of safeguarding people’s health and offering critical human services across UK. It also implements programs that are geared towards preventing the outbreak and spread of diseases.
International Red Cross
This agency provides compassionate care to needy individuals. The volunteers, donors, and employees of the organization have a common agenda of preventing and alleviate suffering locally and internationally through the provision of services such as disaster relief, providing lifesaving blood et cetera.
Epidemiology refers to the study of the distribution of health-related events or states in certain populations and the use of the study in preventing and controlling health problems. One of the primary roles of epidemiologists is to develop policies that are aimed at monitoring the prevalence of both infectious and non-infectious diseases. HIV/AIDS is one of the most prevalent infectious diseases in the UK. A 2014 survey indicated that over 103, 000 individuals in the UK are living with HIV. This translates to a prevalence rate of about 1.9% per 1,000 persons that are above 15 yrs. In the same year, approximately 6,150 persons were diagnosed with HIV and over 600 died of AIDS-associated illnesses.
However, the health care sector through its agencies has increased access to antiretroviral treatment in the United Kingdom in recent years. In 2014, about 90% of patients with HIV were on antiretroviral treatment. In the UK, the group that is highly predisposed to the risk of developing HIV is the men who have sex with men (MSM), with approximately 45, 000 individuals in this category suffering from HIV/AIDS. This number is projected to continue rising. The other groups of individuals that are also at risk of the disease are black Africans, heterosexual men and women, and drug addicts. Despite recording declining rates, the agencies face a major challenge of late diagnosis of HIV.
Cardiovascular disease has been reported to be a leading cause of mortality not only in the UK, but across the globe as well. Research studies established that in the UK, there were more than 1.5 million episodes associated with this disorder in NHS hospitals (van der Linde et al., 2013). This translates to about 10% of all in-patient episodes among men compared to 6.2% in women. Over 300 million prescriptions were dispensed to patients with cardiovascular disease more than 6 times compared to those dispensed in 1981. The studies reported further that 16% of male deaths and 10% of female deaths resulted due to cardiovascular disease, a total sum of 74,000 deaths.
Regardless of whether an institution is a local or a global health department, several major functions are usually performed. The organizations put in place a number of strategies to aid in controlling of diseases. Some of these strategies include;
Health care agencies use this strategy in providing in-depth knowledge about a certain health topic. Education programs can be provided through seminars, workshops, webinars, lectures, and courses. The education presents important information to the targeted populations on health threats/benefits related to the health issue. For instance, through education, the public can be taught on the causes of a disease, the risk factors related to the disease, signs and symptoms, and the preventive measures. The need for seeking quick medical attention upon suspicion of a particular disease is emphasized in these programs. Public awareness helps a great deal in curbing the prevalence of diseases since people know what to do in case of a disease outbreak. Health education has the advantage of broadening perspectives and changes the minds of the people. However, some aspects of health education impose blind ideas upon the people. Educators may at times use complex health care names that discourage people from learning whatever they are told.
Immunization provides long-term lifelong protection against diseases such as chicken pox, measles, TB, and pneumococcal disease. Immunization protects individuals from diseases that affect them as adolescents and adults, and the diseases they might encounter while crossing borders. For instance, health care agencies encourage travelers to Africa and certain parts of South America to receive yellow fever vaccine; a disease that is prevalent in these regions. Immunization is also used to provide “herd immunity.” This is a phenomenon whereby everyone in the community is offered vaccination. When a sufficient number of people are immunized, it becomes difficult for a disease to acquire foothold in the society. This in turn provides some protection to persons such as newborns and patients with chronic diseases that are unable to receive vaccinations. Therefore, the likelihood of an outbreak that could expose them to the disease is reduced. Some of the advantages of this strategy include its cost-effectiveness, and it provides herd immunity that protects the whole population. However, some immunizations are associated with risks. For instance, some individuals have been reported to develop mild reactions to the vaccine. The vaccine can also result in development of other conditions. A good example is the MMR (mumps, measles, and rubella) vaccine which has been documented to have a link with autism (Demicheli et al., 2013). Live vaccines can cause diseases when administered to immune-compromised individuals.
An effective control of infectious diseases requires surveillance of morbidity, mortality, population risk, and the trends of the disease agents. Surveillance aids in identification of new and emerging pathogens. Data acquired from this study helps in timely detection of etiologic agents which aids in implementation of control and preventive measures. Surveillance also aids in pinpointing fields where action can be implemented to decrease the contamination by the disease-causing microorganisms. For instance, surveillance can identify possibility of infection in food production areas such as slaughter houses, farms, and production plants where it will put in place measures to curb incidences of infection.
Other measures that have since been used include isolation and quarantine, controls along international borders, workplace closing, and encouraging the public to increase social distance in controlling communicable diseases such as tuberculosis and Ebola.
There are quite a number of approaches that has been utilized to set priorities for health research at the national and international level. According to Livingston et al. (2013), priorities for health research are set by use of technical analyses which is dependent on quantifiable epidemiologic, financial, clinical and other data. On the same note, interpretive assessment can be used which is dependent on consensuses views of informed participants. Technical approaches are also applied based on the availability of data. However, the priorities are inclined on the measurable units for instance disease or intervention.
Health care providers use treatment in reducing the symptoms and effects of a disease. Treatments are used to control diseases such as diabetes that cannot be cured. Treatment can be done through chemotherapy, implantation, hydrotherapy, surgery, aurotherapy, gene therapy, cell therapy, and immune therapy. Although coupled with several side effects, treatment has been considered as one of the most effective approaches for disease control. Disease prevention is another approach used by health care providers in managing diseases. Through this intervention, the public is taught on the etiology of a disease and how to avoid situations that may predispose them to contracting the disease.
On the same note, health care institutions can also use palliative care for people with serious illnesses (Pratt & Wood, 2015). It aims at offering relief from the symptoms and stress of chronic illness with promotion of quality life. Palliative care can be provided concurrently with treatments directed at curing and treating a disease. This is approach is used to reduce agony in patients suffering from cancer, dementia, kidney failure, cardiac disease, and HIV/AIDS. Paliative care is often offered by a specially trained team of physicians, nurses, social workers among other experts who work as a team with the patien’s doctors in order to offer more support to the patient. Such approach tend to be appropriate at almost all stages of serious illness.
According to CITATION, prevalence is basically the number of all novel and old circumstances of incidences of an event or illnesses within a specific period. The value of prevalence is arrived by dividing the sum of occurrence of the health meter within a particular period by the proportions of the indicator that is being investigated. Healthcare practitioners use prevalence as a metric in planning and setting facility requirements. Prevalence is more preferred as compared to occurrence when evaluating the effect of a disease within the public or successive desires because its statistics are easy to gather as compared to frequency data. Health care workers constitute a wide range of professionals, support personnel, and technical staff working in diverse settings. Assisted living facilities, skilled nursing facilities, and nursing homes offer a number of services both personal and medical care, to individuals that are incapable of independently managing themselves in the community. Millions of patients reside in, or are admitted in skilled nursing settings and nursing homes annually. On the other hand, an estimated one million individuals reside in assisted living settings. Some of these facilities include clinics, hospitals, outpatient care settings, and specialized care centers such as psychiatric centers.
Therefore, it is necessary that these healthcare practitioners identify the number of services requisite to care for patients when planning health services. Since incident occurrences are not the best option, prevalence becomes of more value when measuring the necessity of services. Information collected based on prevalence help in identifying areas that healthcare practitioners should give more attention.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle demands dedication and persistence and does not go without reward. Lifestyle choices often improve a person’s health in almost every aspect with its benefits having far-reaching effects that extend even past the low-risk diseases. Smoking is one of the lifestyle choices that have been projected to have a major impact on the future health needs. Smoking weakens the immune system exposing smokers to the risk of developing respiratory disorders (O’Leary et al., 2014). Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and Cohn’s disease have been linked to smoking. Research has further indicated that about 35% of smokers have higher chances of developing type II diabetes and other cardiovascular disorders like myocardial infection. In addition, smoking decreases bone density; hence, it predisposes an individual to the risk of developing osteoporosis a condition that is common among older women and smoking men. A person’s diet has an impact on physical health which as a result can destabilize mental health.
On the same note, consumption of alcohol is also one of the lifestyle choices that could have an impact on future needs for health and social care services. According to O’Keefe et al. (2014), alcohol is likely to cause both stomach and liver problems to humans. However, it is difficult to control the consumption of alcohol. The reason is because there is no aggressive government campaigns tailored towards reducing the consumption of alcohol. This could impact the future needs for health and social care services in that it will increase the number of patients having liver problems because of heavy consumption of alcohol.
Similarly, consumption of foods with high fat content, processed foods, and low nutrient value foods are catalysts of health deterioration. Consumption of junk food has increased especially in urban areas which result in health deterioration. This type of lifestyle will impact the future of health and social services in that the number of people with obesity and heart diseases will increase. Inactivity has also been proven to be among the leading determinants that lead to chronic illnesses such as obesity, hypertension, and heart failure. Physical Exercises not only control an individual’s weight, but also the physical health. Moreover, physical exercises provide protective benefits to mental health. In fact, some studies have revealed that physical exercise is an effective intervention that is as popular as common antidepressant agents.
Health care providers’ often advice people to exercise healthy behaviors that aid in prevention and management of a number of chronic conditions. However, there are people who are not prepared to embark on these effective, healthy changes. Having enough sleep helps the body in maintaining the sleep-wake cycle which improves physical and mental health; hence, making it easier to tackle an illness. Drinking alcohol also has some dire effects on a person’s well-being. For instance, it interferes with the communication pathways in the brain changing mood, behavior, and affects proper thinking. Alcohol drinking is associated with a number of cardiac disorders such as stroke, hypertension, and arrhythmias (O’Keefe et al., 2014). Chronic drinking has been reported to cause liver damage resulting in cirrhosis. In addition, the immune system of drunkards is weakened by alcohol; therefore, they are easy targets for diseases.
If one is struggling with an illness, or is trying to help a loved one regain his/her health, it becomes easy for them to feel overwhelmed due to the endless collection of treatment options. There are quite a number of health and wellbeing priorities that organizations need to put in place to make the organization better oriented to cater for the patients. One such priority is promoting better and healthy diets. Such priorities will help make people healthier thus making the care of health setting more attractive. On the same note, organizations can promote home based exercises that will help reduce the prevalence of obesity and other health problems such as heart diseases. Many people in the society are not in a position to access gym frequently, thus home based exercise will be more ideal.
In the case of individuals with mental illness, some priorities can be used to improve the well-being of an individual. Diet is one of the priorities for persons in this category. A study by Deckelbaum & Torrejon (2012) proved that healthy fats such as omega-6, omega-3, and fat found in avocados can improve mood and boost brain power. Such individuals also require safety against any kind of abuse whether psychological, sexual, or physical which makes it nearly impossible to attain sound mental health.
Another category is that of persons with HIV/AIDS. These patients should insist on taking e fresh vegetables and fruits, lean protein, and whole grain which help them to be strong, support their immune system, and have more energy. They should also be immunized against infections such as flu and pneumonia. The vaccines should not be made of live vaccines that can further endanger the life of the patients. Volunteer work and engaging in some religious activities are some social practices that provide a level of socialization that makes patients feel comfortable. According to Livingston et al (2013), isolated persons have high chances of struggling with mental health issues which in turn affects the entire physiological functioning of a person. Personal hygiene is one of the most effective ways that these patients can use to not only protect themselves, but from other diseases as well. This means washing hands, careful coughing and sneezing, proper disposal of material, and using protection such as gloves or condoms when there is risk of acquiring an infection.
There are quite a number of strategies that can be utilized in order to form better qualities and habits within peoples way of life. Once such strategies, systems, and policies are implemented in the health and care setting it result on different benefits such as; better customer attraction by improving the health care setting. On the same note, improving the workplace will lead to cultivation of good reputation making the facility better off as compared to other companies. Better strategies, systems and policies will also result in stakeholder attractiveness. On the same note, proper strategies, systems and policies could also result in employee loyalty and make the organization employ and retain talent. Organizations are using customized care that is in tandem with the needs and choices of a patient. This strategy acknowledges that each patient is special and may have varying needs and preferences. This strategy is beneficial since it makes the patient’s environment comfortable and allows the individuality of the patient, which is a vital component of care. However, patients might at times request some undesirable interventions such as requesting for music which could suite him/her but then distracts other patients. Therefore, it is evident that maintaining better strategies, systems and policies could result to positive influences to the company.
There are several strategies that have been documented to have a major impact not only on how well individuals live but also on how long they are likely to live. One of the key changes is attitude change which should occur so as to improve the health and wellbeing. Attitueds, especially concerning the elderly and children must be improved as they have a huge impact on organizational health care setting. Maintaining a good diet with low saturated fats is also important to improve the health and well being of patients. Several persons who live long have testified to not drinking alcohol or doing it moderately. High coffee consumption results in high levels of cholesterol. However, there are people whose benefits of coffee consumption outweigh the risk of getting cholesterol since coffee is linked to lower rates of cancer and diabetes (Crippa et al., 2014). People should also be advised to engage in some physical exercise which aids in improving the pumping activity of the heart and maintaining ideal weight. Education programs should be implemented to sensitize the public on the importance of vaccination which protects the general public against preventable diseases. Vaccination is an effective intervention since it is cheaper compared to treating the real disease; hence, it should be embraced by the public.
Provision of education is one of the interventions that have been used to encourage behavior change. Education programs can inspire behavior change especially when the education uses proven behavior change theories, and targets a specific population. If people are sensitized to embrace health behavior changes that aid in avoiding chronic diseases such as asthma and obesity, they can prolong their lifespan and improve their quality of life. Physical exercise also helps in shedding excess weight. Health care providers have encouraged people to go for a morning jog at least thrice a week or ride a bike to work. This is a cost-effective intervention that safeguards an individual from a wide range of diseases. Programs have also been put in place to advise the public to engage in healthy activities. Some of the activities that have been discouraged by these programs include smoking, drinking alcohol, and engaging in unprotected sex.
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