The CDC Foundation (2016) describes public health as “the scienceof protecting and improving the health of families and communities throughpromotion of health lifestyles, research for disease and injury prevention anddetection and control of infectious diseases.” Public health focuses on entirepopulations rather than individual patients as in a clinical setting. From this definition we can establish thatthe main focus of public health is to reduce health inequalities with the keyconcepts being to protect the public from transmissible diseases, improvingservice provision and to promote the health of the population (Naidoo andWills, 2005, p.
8). Not only in the stateof Georgia, but the United States as a whole, there has been a sharp increasewith the influenza (flu) epidemic. Somepublic health issues are caused by environmental factors while other issues canbe accidental or intentional such as prescription drugoverdose. The Centers forDisease Control and Prevention defines the flu as “a contagiousrespiratory illness caused by influenza viruses.” The flu virus is very similar to the commoncold and just about everyone has experienced the flu at least once in theirlife. Although the flu is comparable tothe common cold, the flu often causes a more severe illness that can lead tohospitalization or even death. The CDC(2017) states that “There are two main types of influenza (flu) virus: Types Aand B.
The influenza A and B virusesthat routinely spread in people (human influenza viruses) are responsible forseasonal flu epidemics each year. InfluenzaA viruses can be broken down into sub-types depending on the genes that make upthe surface proteins. Over the course ofa flu season, different types (A & B) and subtypes (influenza A) ofinfluenza circulate and cause illness.”The flu virus has impacted the United States as a whole and itsactivity is continuing to spread rapidly.
It has a dangerous affect to those who are young, the elders, and womenwho are pregnant. Because the flu candevelop into pneumonia, death has already transpired in many states this fluseason. Although the impact of the fluvaries each year, there is still a significant impact on the health of peoplein the community and United States. Theseverity of the flu disease “is determined by a number of things including thecharacteristics of circulating viruses, the timing of the season, how well thevaccine is working to protect against illness, and how many people gotvaccinated” according to The CDC (2017). “CDC estimates that influenza has resulted inbetween 9.2 million and 35.6 million illnesses, between 140,000 and 710,000hospitalizations and between 12,000 and 56,000 deaths annually since 2010″(2017). Since the start of the fluseason, October 1, 2017, there has been 11,965 hospitalizations due to the fluvirus.
For the 2017-2018 flu season,there has been a total of 37 pediatric deaths associated with the flu virus asstated by the CDC. The CDC plays a major role in savinglives and protecting people on a global aspect. The CDC’s World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center forSurveillance, Epidemiology and Control of Influenza “was established in 1952 tomonitor the frequent changes in influenza viruses with the aim of reducinginfluenza disease impact through the use of vaccines containing currentlycirculating strains. The WHOCollaborating Center is responsible for year-round surveillance to detect fluviruses early and collecting and analyzing the virus from all around the world.
The flu vaccine, also known as the flu shot,is highly recommended by the CDC and health providers. The flu shot is the most important protocolin protecting against the flu virus. Although there are many flu virus strands,the flu shot will protect against the most commonvirus.
Candidate vaccine viruses are made by The Centerand distributed to manufacturers to mass produce flu vaccines. Protecting yourself during the fluseason is an effective way to prevent the flu. It is very common for people to over exert themselvesand ignore flu symptoms. In order tochange the outcome of this epidemic is to limit the contact with others whenfeeling ill. People should not rush backto work or school and should wait at least 24 hours before returning, to ensurethat they have fully recovered from the flu. Antiviral drugs are the most common treatment option if you get the fluvirus. Antiviral drugs can shorten thetime you are sick as well as prevent flu complications that could possibly resultto death. The National Institute on Drug Abuse(NIH) classifiesopioids as “a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers availablelegally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone(Vicodin®),codeine, morphine, and many others.
” Opioiddrugs are used to treat moderate to severe pain that may not respond well to otherpain medications. Being that they are soeffective, opioids are the most often prescribed pain relievers. Opioids are generally safe when takenproperly because these medications can help regulate pain when prescribed forthe correct condition. When takenincorrectly or abused, opioids can pose significant harm, leading to addiction,overdose, and even death. The United States is in the center of anopioid overdose pandemic and is an ongoing threat to the public’s health inthis country. Drug overdose deaths andopioid-involved deaths continue to rise in the United States. “The majority of drug overdose deaths (66%)involve an opioid. In 2016, the number of overdose deaths involvingopioids (including prescription opioids and heroin) was 5 times higher thanin 1999.
From 2000 to 2016, more than600,000 people died from drug overdoses. On average, 115 Americans die everyday from an opioid overdose” (Rudd RA, Seth P, David F, Scholl L, 2016). “Theamount of prescription opioids sold to pharmacies, hospitals, and doctors’offices nearly quadrupled from 1999 to 2010” as stated by the DEA (2011), “yetthere had not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americansreported” (Change H et al., 2000-2015).
“`Deathsfrom prescription opioids—drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone—havemore than quadrupled since 1999” according to the CDC (2016).The CDC implemented Prevention for States whichis a program that helps states fight the ongoing prescription drug overdosepandemic. The focus of Prevention forStates is to supply health departments with the necessary resources and supportrequired to innovate interventions for precluding prescription drugoverdoses. The CDC specified that “Through2019, CDC plans to give selected states annual awards between $750,000 and $1million to advance prevention in four key areas. Awarded states arecollaborating with key partners to maximize efforts and address issues thatimpact prescribing and drug overdoses” (2017).The Georgia Overdose Prevention is anorganization comprised of numerous individuals such as healthcareprofessionals, parents, harm reduction advocates and even friends who lost lovedones due to drug overdose.
GovernorNathan Deal passed Georgia 911 Medical Amnesty Law in 2014 which increasedaccess to the opioid antidote naloxone. Naloxonereverses the effects of opioid medication and is used to treat a narcotic overdosein an emergency situation. The GeorgiaOverdose Prevention is proud to provide the resources to help inform thecommunity about the Georgia’s 911 Medical Amnesty Law and that naloxone is available.
Improving the way that healthcare providers treatpain could reverse the prescription drug overdose epidemic. “Providers wrote nearly a quarter of abillion opioid prescriptions in 2013—with wide variation across states”reported by the CDC (2017). Reducing overprescribing couldreduce exposure to opioids by preventing misuse, abuse, and overdose before theystart. Increasing naloxone access in thecommunity could relevantly change the opioid overdose epidemic. Public awareness plays a significate role inthe community; increasing awareness of the risks, educating about drug overdoseprevention, and drug treatments could potentially decrease the misuse, abuse,and overdose in the community. Public health plays a significant role in prolonginglife and promoting healthy lifestyles. Overall,public health focuses on protecting the health of entire populations by implementingeducational programs, conducting research, recommending polices, andadministering services. There are a number of public health issues in the midstof the United States and organizations like the CDC, local health departments,healthcare professionals, and nongovernmental organizations are vigorouslyworking on initiatives to approach these bewildering problems.
The flu epidemic and prescription drugoverdose are continuing to increase around the United States. Although there are numerous strands of theflu virus, getting the flu vaccine is the most effective way to prevent the seasonalflu virus and spreading it to others. Thereare thousands of deaths each year associated with prescription drug overdosedue to misuse and abuse. Educating thepublic about fatal outcomes of consuming too many prescription opioids and encouragingglobal participation in public awareness campaigns can be a critical tool forpreventing drug overdose.
The work ofpublic health professionals is essential because public health inventivenessaffect people day all over the world. It addresses extensive issues that canaffect health and well-being of individuals, families, communities,populations, and societies.