Broad Trends Influencing Our Nation’s Health

Broad Trends Influencing Our Nation’s Health

Broad Trends Influencing Our Nation’s Health

According to The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), health is shaped by both innate factors (e.g., genes, age, and sex) and other influences from the social, economic, natural, built, and political environments, ranging from the availability of shelter and food to questions of social connectedness and behavior. These multiple determinants of health, among others, constitute a reality that makes it impossible for one entity, like a Health Guardian to bring about population health improvement. We can work effectively individually, and with other healthcare providers and public health services to create the conditions that allow people in the United States to be as healthy as they can be.

Opportunities & Threats to Our Nation’s Health:

The following factors offer unprecedented opportunities for global and national health improvement, whereas others pose threats that make it more difficult to achieve the best conditions necessary for the nation's health:

  • Population growth (a population growing larger, older, with a higher incidence of chronic disease)
  • Unprecedented technological and scientific advances that create new channels for information and communication, as well as novel ways of preventing and treating disease.
  • The geopolitical and economic challenge of globalization.

Population Growth

The U.S. population will become much older in the twenty-first century and strengthening community and individual capacities and resources to support good health at all ages will be essential. As the Baby Boom generation ages into retirement, the proportion of the U.S. population over age 65 is projected to reach 18.5 percent by 2025. The graying of America doubtlessly will be accompanied by some changes in the population's needs for health care, long-term care, and other services. As a Health Guardian this trend especially underscores the importance of being aware of services and social supports to promote healthy aging. An aging population will require effective means of chronic disease prevention and management to help older people maintain the best possible levels of health and function.

You can do some things as a Health Guardian to promote good health, but some health problems may be inevitable because of biologic and genetic factors, but research is pointing to new opportunities for promoting health at older ages. For example, community-based interventions to support behavioral changes such as increases in physical activity and good nutrition may partially reverse some health damage and may help prevent the occurrence of additional problems.

An advantage of being your own Health Guardian means you can make early investments in health promotion and disease prevention, which will produce benefits at younger ages, before irreparable damage has occurred and before the chances for healthful, functional aging are reduced. Aging healthfully promises not only psychosocial benefits and the ability to remain functional and independent for as long as possible but may also result in medical cost savings.

Technological and Scientific Advances

We live in an age of technology, the acquisition of new scientific knowledge. Some advances, like highly sophisticated medical instruments and better pharmaceuticals, seem most pertinent to the personal health care delivery system, but others are highly relevant for the protection of population health. Developments in genetics, for example, have shed new light on disease causation, thus providing new opportunities for intervention for disease prevention and health. Genomics is expected to transform the practice of medicine from disease screening and diagnostics to treatment. In fact, health care may come to involve the detection of disease at the gene level, permitting preventive treatment before the disease even begins to unfold. The Health Guardian could take advantage of these technologies to better understand how to prevent disease and chronic illnesses. However, the promise of genetics is constrained by an incomplete understanding of interactions among genes and between genes and the environment. This not only poses research challenges but also raises other contentious issues concerning the causes of ill health, personal rights and responsibilities, and the possibility of achieving health equity. For example, can the Health Guardian’s individual choices and behaviors be leveraged against genetic heritage in a way that is fair?

The increase in personal computer uses and access to the ever-expanding offerings of the Internet present both opportunities and challenges to the goal of improving the health of the population. Although the wider availability of health information may empower and inform consumers, The Health Guardian needs to be aware of erroneous or misleading information which may also pose a danger to your health. Partners in the public health system must ensure that emerging communication and information technologies are used effectively to promote the concepts and messages of good public health.

Globalization and Health

Globalization is reflected in both positive and negative developments that include increased trade, travel, migration and demographic changes, food security issues, environmental degradation and unsustainable consumption patterns, the evolution and dissemination of technology and communications, and an increasingly global. Global health issues include, for example, health risks arising from certain infectious diseases, ozone depletion, and lifestyle changes, all of which transcend national borders. The Health Guardian can study out these threats and take precautions to prevent illness and infectious diseases.

As world economies have become interconnected and interdependent, global health can no longer remain the domain of a few specialists because its repercussions are significant for our economy, our place in the world, and the cultural and human heritage that the populations of the world share. As a Health Guardian you can seek out global health information to be more responsive to changes in the health of other countries that might affect the health of our Nation.

Many believe that it is imperative that we have a strong public health system, with engaged partners, to be able be in place to deal with these challenges if we are to promote and protect the nation's health today and tomorrow. The Health Guardian can be one of those engaged partners and beware of the health trends that are affecting the United States, acting upon that knowledge, to keep themselves and others they care for safe and healthy.

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