The Difference Public Health Workers Make
With every job comes challenge. Any truck driver can tell you, you can’t drive an 18-wheeler like a car; an accountant knows handling finances is more than just addition and subtraction, and New Mexico Department of Health employees prove results don’t come without effort and teamwork.
Its mission: Promote health and wellness, improve health outcomes, and assure safety net services for all people in New Mexico isn’t just words, it’s a vision. Their job is to create a healthier New Mexico, with the results coming a little bit every day, one person at a time.
This week is National Public Health Week. It’s created by the American Public Health Association (APHA) to recognize the men and women championing good health of all in New Mexico and beyond.
National Public Health Week also highlights public health achievements, and while we know New Mexico has a way to go, it’s stunning to look at what it’s done in just the last year alone giving how hard and how long the Department of Health’s 3000 employees have worked to get there in 2014.
New Mexico in the last year has reached an 80 percent immunization rate for two-year-olds. That’s the highest rate in over ten years.
Progress is being made in the fight against obesity. Just within the last few weeks, the department released the latest numbers revealing a 12 percent decrease in childhood obesity rates among New Mexico third graders from just four years ago.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last summer named New Mexico as being one of among 19 states and US territories to reduce obesity rates of young children in low income families.
The department has even seen the state’s adult obesity rate – after years of expanding, finally stabilizing.
The efforts that began with the Healthy Kids Las Cruces program six years ago are taking root statewide as the program continues to grow and thrive as Healthy Kids New Mexico. Working with community partners, the department has helped create trails that encourage walking and biking in some of the most remote areas of New Mexico and worked with our children in school to create healthy habits and pass those lessons on to their parents.
The great thing about public health is also the thing that is most necessary for its success: boots on the ground. The New Mexico Department of Health has dozens of public health offices around the state, from the large cities to the most remote areas of the state.
In those offices you’ll find doctors and nurses providing essential medical services from cancer prevention to family planning and beyond. They tackle drug addiction, provide testing and treatment for infectious diseases, and ease the pain of poverty by providing nutrition education and receive monthly food benefits for high nutrient foods.
“They are literally soldiers in the fight for the health of New Mexicans, and they’re what National Public Health Week is about,” said Secretary of Health Retta Ward, MPH. “I am proud and grateful for the hard work they do to take care of our residents.”
This year’s theme is “Public Health: Start Here” – and you’re encouraged to do the same. Many who see what the Department of Health does on a daily basis are surprised. Maybe you will be too!
We would be happy to provide additional information about this press release. Simply contact David Morgan at 575-528-5197 (Office) or 575-649-0754 (Mobile) with your questions.