The ongoing global pandemic (COVID-19) unfolded that no country, either developed or underdeveloped, was prepared to manage such a situation. It won’t be wrong to say that it took a deadly virus to make the whole world realize the importance and effectiveness of public health policies. Public health policies entail more than just informing individuals how to take care of their health.
It deals with protecting and improving the health of individuals living in a community or country. One aspect of this field is to devise and implement public health policies to manage the outbreak of a disease, limit its influence amongst the masses, and provide efficient vaccinations. This way we can be prepared to manage upcoming pandemics.
The COVID-19 pandemic is not the first one hitting our world. It has similarities to what people dealt with back in the 13th and 19th centuries. The importance of public health and policies became evident when many countries were on the brink of massive deaths. The leading epidemiologists were concerned about the rapid transmission of COVID-19 and that public health policies did nothing to minimize the transmission.
The world has survived many wars and outbreaks in the past, but the question here is: are we prepared to survive a pandemic in the future? The recent one has forced every country to be ready for any impending pandemics and design an effective public healthcare system.
Here are a few things public healthcare workers can do:
- Surveillance for early detection:
Infections are common, and we can only control or detect infectious diseases early if we know the infection model. Bearing COVID – 19 outbreak in mind, the scope and advantages of online masters of public health degrees are multifold. Besides, we need more public health experts to help design effective healthcare systems. The coronavirus emerged as a novel strain with no cure. The symptoms were new, and intensity had never been experienced before. The only possible way of early detection is to study the symptoms of someone infected with the virus. Creating a surveillance capacity to detect a virus or any other infectious disease can enable health workers to take proactive action and prevent the disease.
- Implementing public health measures:
Combating disease is only possible if we know the infection patterns, the number of infected people, and the virus’s multiplication rate. Recording all occurred cases, number of deaths, and new patients can tell a lot about the spread of a disease in a region. Public health workers study virology and take measures to find a cure. For example, initially, during the current pandemic, the only possible safety measure from the pandemic was following safety protocols like wearing masks, maintaining distance, and washing hands. Our surroundings have trillions of pathogens and bacteria that can cause various diseases. Some of them are known, while others might still go unnoticed. Following the safety measures, including immunization, can help prevent infections and enhance our quality of life. Safety measures for public health can save us a lot of trouble.
- Community engagement and risk communication:
Whenever the world came across a new virus or disease like SARS, Ebola, HIV, etc., the first course of action was to communicate the risks globally. When handling horrific disease outbreaks, the media becomes the most effective channel. We cannot underestimate the power of electronic and digital media in communicating the risks and preventive measures. Risk communication plays an influential role in shaping the future course of an epidemic enabling people to make the right decisions. Public health measures call for a collective effort involving authorities, governments, healthcare professionals, and people to be on the same page. Effective strategies are only possible when everyone in a community understands the public health concern and agrees to play their role.
- Building immunity:
Diseases like Polio Mellitus or HIV/AIDS that were once prevalent are quite under control today. Investigating the causes and patterns of disease can help develop a vaccine to build immunity among people. Ensuring vaccination among the older population and frontline workers can alleviate the surge and death tolls occurring due to a disease outbreak. Immunization can play a substantial role in manage pandemics that may appear in the future.
- Ensuring surge capacity:
Unknown plagues may cause catastrophic mortality rates. We know how different countries faced an acute shortage of oxygen and hospital beds last year due to a high infection rate. An event like the current pandemic is enough to reshape the healthcare systems with increased medical supplies, state-of-the-art medical equipment, well-trained health care staff, and efficient response to emergencies. We do not know what health emergencies may occur in the future or how intense they will be but taking all the precautionary measures will help us fight health emergencies.
Public health has always been an area of interest of all health organizations globally. Devising public health policies and processes is essential in preventing future pandemics. It’s high time that all countries coordinate and combine resources to improve their healthcare systems.