If there’s anything the past two years have taught us, it is that public health can be a huge challenge to manage. There can be sudden issues that even the most trained healthcare professionals can be unprepared for. The pandemic was entirely unforeseen, and despite having the best brains in the world tackling the issue, an epidemic soon escalated into a global outbreak. However, COVID-19 isn’t the only healthcare challenge.
There are various other, far more insidious challenges that require immediate attention. A career in public health can allow you to tackle these complex issues and work towards safeguarding the most vulnerable populations. These health concerns aren’t just limited to disease but can include detrimental lifestyle practices too.
If you’re interested in learning more about the biggest challenges in public health, keep reading below.
Mental Health Conditions
One of the biggest issues faced by public health these days is growing cases of mental health disorders. Various factors profoundly affect our mental health, and the incidence of depression, anxiety, and other disorders is increasing exponentially. Mental health conditions can immensely impact an individual’s quality of life and make it challenging for them to bond with loved ones and perform to the best of their capabilities.
The pandemic has exacerbated these conditions immensely, and people are experiencing greater loneliness and isolation than ever before. Understanding the complex issues that give rise to depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder is vital to reduce the incidence and shape a healthier society. Pursuing an online public health degree can allow you to assess healthcare concerns from a multi-faceted approach. A master’s in public health is a program you can easily complete online, at a flexible schedule. Moreover, the online MPH program is incredibly detailed and covers areas such as data collection, assessment of public health policies and more. With this detailed program under your belt, you can be better equipped to handle the mental health pandemic of today.
HIV/AIDS is one of today’s most dangerous and predominant healthcare concerns and requires direct intervention from public health specialists. One of the biggest reasons HIV/AIDS is so dangerous isn’t its symptoms but the many misconceptions and taboos surrounding it. The misinformation surrounding the topic makes it harder for people to engage in preventative practices and the taboos make it hard for affected individuals to seek help.
For many, HIV/AIDS can be easily manageable with the right lifestyle and medication. People can adequately protect their immune system and lower the disease to unnoticeable levels with consistent care. Tackling these public health concerns requires the public to be educated and for the stigma to be dispelled. Doing so can encourage people to seek help and be open about their diagnosis, so they don’t inadvertently infect others.
Lifestyle-Related Health Issues
One of the biggest healthcare issues of today concerns lifestyle-related risks, which can have a lasting negative impact on the lives of millions globally. Over the years, our lifestyle has evolved immensely and has grown to become much more sedentary. We travel to work in cars or buses, work without any physical activity, and return home to use our phones, leaving us no time to exert our bodies. This especially important for older members of society. While students can say “I’ll hire someone to do my homework and go on walk” others may not have a possibility to delegate.
Additionally, dietary changes further supplement the pressure on our bodies. The food we consume nowadays is almost entirely devoid of nutritional value and instead is highly processed, greasy, and sugary. Poor nutrition and low activity levels can lead to various long-term complications such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, tooth decay and more.
One of the biggest challenges in public health is thus figuring out how to encourage a healthier lifestyle in the masses. Encouraging people to walk to work, join the gym, and follow a healthier diet can make a huge difference and boost public health.
Prescription Drug Misuse
We normally think of hard drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and other opiates when we think of drug misuse. However, the effects of prescription drug misuse have become glaringly evident in recent years. Prescription psychotherapeutic drugs, tranquilizers and sedatives, stimulants and more have been widely misused by millions of people, leading to fatal overdoses in some cases. Moreover, prescription drug overuse is becoming widespread amongst teens, posing a serious public health concern.
Public health professionals then need to focus on tracking and monitoring prescription drug sales to prevent unnecessary sales. Moreover, there also need to be efforts to educate the public regarding the drawbacks of even occasional overuse and how prescription drugs can be just as addictive as hard drugs.
Many patients become heavily addicted to prescription drugs and painkillers without realizing it, which is why efforts also need to be made to reach out to such groups and offer rehabilitative care.
Infectious and Drug-Resistant Diseases
Antibiotic use has been instrumental in controlling the spread of various diseases and ensuring a safer lifestyle for all of us. However, in recent years, antibiotic overuse has started to pose a greater threat to public health than diseases. Antibiotic overuse can lead to antibiotic resistance in a range of bacteria and can make treating many infections much more challenging. Simple diseases such as influenza, pneumonia, and tuberculosis can become incredibly challenging to treat.
Additionally, drug-resistant diseases can make surgical procedures, chemotherapy, and other procedures much more complicated and risky. It can be challenging to reduce the incidence of multi-drug-resistant diseases without public outreach programs. Educating the public about the risks of antibiotic misuse can lower such cases. Additionally, there needs to be a closer check on antibiotic sales to ensure that people aren’t indiscriminately using these drugs. Creating better vaccinations can also help control the spread of infectious diseases and boost public health.
Public health is an incredibly diverse field, with a range of issues that need urgent attention. Although we might imagine COVID-19 to be the most pressing public health issue of our age, various other problems need immediate attention.
Understanding the cause of these issues and the groups most vulnerable to falling prey to them can help improve public health conditions. Doing so can uplift society as a whole and help each member of society reach their full potential.