The month of April hosts the confluence of The American Public Health Association’s (APHA) freshly concluded 2022 National Public Health Week, themed “Public Health is Where You Are”, and the 2022 National Minority Health Month, themed “Give Your Community a Boost!”. Accordingly, April provides preventive medicine physicians in all sectors and at all levels of practice a focused opportunity to dialogue with individuals and communities about their individual and collective health and wellness.
Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, April’s opportunity again proves more salient to recognize continuing disparities in disease risks, burden, and outcomes, and underscore ongoing efforts addressing the disproportionate burden of disease borne by communities facing often overlapping and interwoven system-based challenges, including communities of color, rural communities, and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities. As this pandemic has made evident, baseline individual and community health, as well as occupational settings and opportunities, form part of the calculus that determines risk, burden, and outcomes. More specifically, the epidemiology of the underlying epidemic of obesity and its complications in hindsight perhaps provided an archetype for how the COVID-19 pandemic population impacts could manifest themselves.
Preventive medicine physicians can and do empower individuals and communities to recognize, understand, and navigate the factors affecting their health and wellness to the extent possible to improve everyday baseline health, anticipating this then translates to improved preparedness and outcomes in altered conditions. Integrally though, in order to better prepare at risk individuals and communities to weather such events at the macro level, as a workforce, preventive medicine physicians are uniquely trained and positioned to engage with policy, social, and financing levers influencing risk, burden, and outcomes to move them in a way that crafts a system setting individuals and communities up for success.