What is community health? Everyone belongs to a community. The communities we belong to shape who we are. It is a part of our identities. The decisions we make can impact our communities. We are all in it together.
According to Brooks (2019), community health is the intersection of healthcare, economics, and social interaction. She defines it as a medical specialty that focuses on the physical and mental well-being of the people in a specific geographic region.
According to the article, Why Community Health Is Important for Public Health, community health is the collective well-being of community members who in addition to living in the same neighborhood or region often share health characteristics, ethnicities, and socioeconomic conditions.
It is often the case that specific health conditions/ailments can be prevalent in certain communities. For instance, there are communities where due to lack of potable water can sometimes deal with dracunculiasis, an infection caused by guinea worm.
So, communities can be plagued with ailments specific to their communities. Some communities could experience high obesity rates if they have easier access to foods higher in sugar content and lower in nutrition.
Some low-income communities might have high malnourishment ailments rates if they don’t have easy access to nutritious foods.
You take the popular case of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan that raised concern over the development of children as well as health issues for adults due to the high content of lead and other contaminants in their drinking water.
All these examples are proof that communities can be besieged by health as well as other concerns specific to the communities.
Why then is community health so important?
Community health is completely tied to individual health. A healthy community means healthy individuals because a community is an environment that persons live in. An unhealthy community makes it almost impossible for healthy individuals to exist.
Brooks (2019) notes that community health impacts everything from educational achievement, safety and crime, people’s ability to work, be financially wealthy, life expectancy, happiness, and more. It affects a child’s development and an adult’s well-being.
The CDC reports that communities that are attentive to public health reduce inequalities among residents of such communities, reduce health gaps caused by differences in race and ethnicity, location, social status, income, and other factors that can affect health.
According to Healthy People (2020), the effect of health on quality of life can also impact the desire to participate in civic duties like voting, social functions, and leisure activities. When community health is not a focus, issues difficult to handle can arise.
These problems can turn into a continuous cycle.
Research shows that chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heart diseases, obesity, etc. can increase if community health is not a primary focus.
These diseases, in turn, can reduce not only the quality of life in communities but the life expectancy in a community as well.
The CDC also points out that poor community health can also negatively affect a community as 90% of healthcare expenses are usually for people with chronic health conditions.
When community health is not made a primary focus, curbing the spread of infectious diseases becomes difficult or almost impossible. This is because curbing the spread of infectious diseases is a priority of community health.
So, when this is not made a focus, communities struggle to deal with the spread of such diseases and often time, find themselves dealing with battling with the outbreak of such infectious diseases.
A key example is the outbreak of yellow fever that occurred in communities in the southern region of Nigeria in 2020 where a cluster of deaths occurred due to this outbreak.
This was not handled until community health programs dealing with vaccination were created. We see the drastic results that can come from not making community health a focus.
How can community health protect us all?
Let’s look at the ways a focus on community health is invaluable. A focus on community health connects marginalized communities to health resources.
When there are community health programs in underprivileged and marginalized communities with a lack of easy access to health resources, there is an improvement in the health of such communities.
A focus on community health can led to an increase in education and knowledge of healthy living.
Community health programs often focus on helping communities understand the healthcare systems, teaching people about health conditions and management of such health conditions as well as teaching community members about how to make healthy lifestyle choices. A focus on community health bridges the gap between the local healthcare system and the community it serves.
Community healthcare workers often act as intermediaries between the communities and the local healthcare systems. Oftentimes, they act as advocates for the communities they serve, drawing attention to the healthcare needs of the members of the communities.
They often make home visits and provide health services to chronically ill or elderly patients at home. They may administer medicine, counseling as well as social support, thus increasing the physical and mental well-being of community members.
Without a doubt, community health plays an integral role in society by impacting communities for the better, reducing imbalance that might occur in isolated rural areas with limited access to healthcare by ensuring equitable access to health resources.
Community health centers and outreach programs serve as primary health care providers and means of bringing health resources to people who might not have access to these on average.
The goals of community health, according to the article, Why Community Health Is Important for Public Health, include offering comprehensive services that grant communities direct and immediate access to essential health resources.
This is done by creating community public health initiatives that focus on identifying specific geographic areas with high levels of need and helping these communities to surmount any barriers that prevent them from living healthier lives.
Community health is vital in countries like Nigeria where several communities especially in rural areas have limited access to healthcare and it, therefore, helps in allowing such communities have access to healthcare that they might not normally have.
This is where the Emmanuel Osemota Foundation (EOF) comes in. EOF developed an intervention plan to address resource gaps in the community through the Becca Renaissance arm of the foundation that offers medical outreach programs.
They provide essential services such as screenings for high blood pressure and diabetes to rural communities located in the southern region of Nigeria. They also provide free eye exams, eyeglasses, medications for different ailments, free mosquito insecticide-treated nets to fight malaria, and free dental care for members of such communities.
They also offer preventative medicine teaching and treatment for communities. EOF donates free hospital equipment to healthcare personnel who serve these communities. EOF also provides palliative food items to orphanage homes in the local community.
All of this is done in a bid to address health as well as social inequities in such communities. By providing community health services, EOF seeks to protect all who are members of the communities they serve. The Emmanuel Osemota Foundation seeks to expand its reach beyond the communities it currently serves. But they cannot do this alone.
The EOF being a non-governmental organization and a not-for-profit organization relies on the donations made by foundation members and supporters. But that can only go a little way.
This is why the Emmanuel Osemota Foundation strongly appeals to the good conscience of members of the public for donations. A donation goes a long way in assisting less privileged communities to have access to better healthcare brought to them by clicking here.
We Thank You for Your Donation!
Written by: Amen Ahabue, Creative Writer for EOF
Brooks, A. (2019). What Is Community Health and Why Is It Important? Health Sciences Blog, Rasmussen University. https://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/health-sciences/blog/what-is-community-health/
Partnerships to Improve Community Health (2019). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. https://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dch/programs/partnershipstoimprovecommunityhealth/index.html
Health-Related Quality of Life and Well-Being (2020). Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/about/foundation-health-measures/Health-Relaed-Quality-of-Life-and-Well-Being
Why Community Health Is Important for Public Health (2020). Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. https://publichealth.tulane.edu/blog/why-community-health-is-important-for-public-health/