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FOR RELEASE: March 22, 2001
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
405/271-5601

National Public Health Week April 2 – 8,
"Healthy People in Healthy Communities"

The new millennium is bringing about positive changes at the state and community levels in the delivery of public health services to communities, according to officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health. In observance of public health's contributions to Oklahoma's well being, Gov. Frank Keating has proclaimed April 2-8 as “National Public Health Week” in Oklahoma. This week will observe Healthy People in Healthy Communities.

So what is public health? Many people see public health as a “safety net” between the private health care delivery system and the public sector. Yet it is much more. “Public health services monitor health status, and inform, educate, and empower people about health issues,” said Jerry Regier, Acting Director of the Oklahoma State Department of Health and Secretary of Health and Human Services. “National Public Health Week gives us an opportunity to take a fresh look at public health's role in protecting the health and safety of Oklahomans,” he said. “We are aggressively looking at new ways to promote and encourage healthy behaviors, mobilize community partnerships to identify and help solve health problems, and link people to health services they have trouble obtaining.”

Public health provides immunizations for children and adults, fluoridation of drinking water to prevent tooth decay, reduces blood lead levels in children, and provides early identification of disease outbreaks while preventing further infections. It works to eliminate mysterious toxins in the environment, and prevent foodborne illnesses, injuries, and epidemics.

Public health officials respond to disasters and assist local communities in disease prevention and recovery efforts. Public health also enforces laws and regulations that protect health and ensure the safety of all Oklahomans, including reviewing and toughening enforcement of policies and procedures to protect the elderly, children and people of all ages. Public health laboratories test for rabies, tuberculosis, hepatitis, AIDS, and other infectious diseases, and track disease outbreaks as part of the national public health system.

The following is a snapshot of some of the services provided in the year 2000 by Oklahoma's county health departments and contracted providers:

  • 983,762 doses of vaccine were administered;
  • 76,450 home visits to reach pregnant women and first-time mothers;
  • 45,113 retail food inspections conducted;
  • 224,307 tuberculin skin tests administered;
  • 59,000 persons received family planning services;
  • 89,992 (monthly average) mothers and children were helped by the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) supplemental nutrition program.

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Proclamation
National Public Health Week in Oklahoma
April 2-8, 2001

Whereas, over the past 50 years the United States and Oklahoma has achieved significant increases in life expectancy and reductions in the incidence of injury, disability and disease;

Whereas, public health is credited with improvements in health status that improved years of life expectancy in the United States and Oklahoma by 50 years since the turn of the century;

Whereas, promoting health and quality of life of all Oklahomans through prevention is a major goal of public health;

Whereas, public health activities protect Oklahomans from infectious diseases, environmental and workplace hazards, chronic diseases, unintentional injuries and violence, and identifies and addresses patterns of disease, illness and injury in populations;

Whereas, National Public Health Week provides the opportunity to learn about public health success stories including overcoming the challenges of polio, smallpox, diphtheria, typhoid fever, reduction in childhood blood lead levels, tooth decay through water fluoridation, and improved outreach efforts to immunize populations, and educate people about nutrition, exercise and health care;

Whereas, National Public Health Week provides the opportunity to commend the efforts of the Oklahoma State Department of Health, County Health Departments, and public and private health care professionals who protect, promote and enhance the health of all citizens in communities across the state of Oklahoma;

Whereas the National Public Health theme “Healthy People in Healthy Communities” encourages individuals to get involved in or start healthy activities in their homes, neighborhoods, and communities to promote healthy lifestyles;

I, Governor Frank Keating, do hereby proclaim April 2- 8, 2001, as National Public Health Week in the State of Oklahoma, and commend this observance to all our citizens.

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