SALEM - By MARY ANN GREIER
People control their own destiny when it comes to personal health, according to Salem Health Commissioner Richard Setty.
He made the observation while promoting National Public Health Week, a program first established in 1995 to bring attention to the contributions made by public health.
The week kicks off Monday and has a theme stating "Public Health is Return On Investment: Saves Lives, Saves Money."
According to the NPHW website, the theme was developed "to highlight the value of prevention and the importance of well-supported public health systems in preventing disease, saving lives and curbing health care spending."
Setty said many of the issues people face in their health are a matter of personal choices. He said people choose to eat fast food or ingest sugary drinks. People choose to share dirty needles. They choose to smoke, they choose to drink alcohol or abuse drugs. They choose not to exercise.
"Public health tries to do what we can to influence personal health behaviors," he said. "But in the final analysis, it's still up to the individual to think upon and act upon those issues that will affect their personal health."
Setty said people can choose not to partake in risky behaviors, to eat right, to exercise and do what they need to do to stay as healthy as possible. For children and adolescents, it's up to the parents to set the example and set the rules to ensure good health when it comes to eating and exercise.
Public health issues are more important than ever, he said, such as making immunizations available and keeping the food supply safe.
During this week, there's a theme to focus on each day.
Monday starts with "ensuring a safe, healthy home for your family" which can include installing smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, being aware of food safety rules, installing child safety latches for cupboards where dangerous chemicals or medicines are stored, being prepared for an emergency and taking action to prevent fires and accidents in the home.
On Tuesday, the focus turns to "providing a safe environment for children at school," looking at smoke-free and tobacco-free policies, policies regarding health issues for children such as allergies and asthma, policies against bullying and having a good physical education program.
Wednesday takes the emphasis on the job for "creating a healthy workplace." A healthy workplace can entail workplace safety regulations and training, providing workers with safety equipment, having policies in place regarding workplace violence and practicing safety drills.
On Thursday, the theme is "protecting you while you're on the move," such as using seat belts, not texting while driving (which is now illegal in Ohio), not driving while impaired or distracted, being an alert pedestrian and wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle or motorcycle.
The week wraps up Friday with the theme "empowering a healthy community." That could mean keeping educated on recommended vaccinations and health issues, joining a neighborhood watch program and taking part in national health observances, such as National Public Health Week.
Visit the NPHW website at www.nphw.org for more ideas.