Public health saves lives and money — focus of UAB events

National Public Health Week will take place the first week of April and gives the opportunity to highlight advances across the nation. UAB will celebrate with many events.

The eradication of deadly diseases like smallpox and large reductions in motor-vehicle-related deaths came as a result of public health advancements. Experts in the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Public Health (SOPH) invite the community to learn more about public health at National Public Health Week (NPHW) events April 1-5.

Those speaking, competing or being honored during the week include the president of the American Heart Association, the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) chief scientist and under secretary for the Research, Education and Economics (REE) mission area, a former chair of the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, the Birmingham City Council and UAB students and faculty.

NPHW13_sCommunities across the United States have recognized NPHW during the first full week of April since 1995. Organized by the American Public Health Association (APHA), this year’s focus is “Public Health is ROI: Save Lives, Save Money,” to highlight the importance of well-supported public health systems in preventing disease, saving lives and curbing health care spending.

“Virtually everything in an organized community has something to do with the health of the public,” said Max Michael, M.D., dean of the SOPH. “We will hold discussions and activities that bring attention to the need we all have for public health.”

Monday, April 1

The week kicks off with two experts in the public health field. American Heart Association President and SOPH Department of Epidemiology Chair Donna Arnett, Ph.D., will speak at a breakfast April 1 at 8:30 a.m. in the Edge of Chaos (EOC). At 11:30 a.m., former New York State commissioner of mental health and former chair of the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health Michael Hogan, Ph.D., will present a lunch seminar in the EOC.

Tuesday, April 2

Public Health Research Day (PHRD) is Tuesday, April 2, starting at 9:30 a.m. at the UAB Recreation Center. This day gives visibility to ongoing and planned research activities at the SOPH, ranging from completed research that has been presented at meetings, to early stage concepts of research projects. A lunch will follow the research presentations on site at 11:30 a.m., and it will feature the 2013 recipient of the Distinguished Faculty Investigator Award, Michael Foster, Ph.D.

PHRD will conclude with a visit and presentation from Catherine Woteki, Ph.D., the under secretary for the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Research, Education, and Economics (REE) mission area, as well as the Department's chief scientist. Woteki’s seminar, “Public Health and Food Security: The Nutrition Nexus,” will be at 2:00 p.m. at the Learning Resource Center.

Those speaking, competing or being honored during the week include the president of the American Heart Association, the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) chief scientist and under secretary for the Research, Education and Economics (REE) mission area, a former chair of the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, the Birmingham City Council and UAB students and faculty.

Wednesday, April 3

Each year, the SOPH awards a person or organization which exemplifies dedication to public health issues. This year, the Birmingham City Council is being awarded the Lou Wooster Public Health Hero award in recognition of the smoke free ordinance that they passed on April 17, 2012, which prohibited smoking in public places.

On Wednesday, April 3, the Lou Wooster Public Health Hero Award presentation will start at the Ryals Public Health building (RPHB) at 11:30 a.m., and a horse-drawn carriage will take the Councilmembers to Oak Hill Cemetery for a ceremony held in the chapel around noon. The carriage is to signify the empty ones that drove past Lou Wooster’s funeral in May 1913 to pay respects; Wooster was a 19th century Birmingham madam who risked her own life to care for the sick during the 1873 cholera epidemic.

On Wednesday evening, the Public Health Student Association will sponsor the movie screening of the critically acclaimed documentary “Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare” at the Hill University Center Alumni Hall at 5:30 p.m. Snacks will be provided. 

Thursday, April 4

On Thursday, April 4, students from UAB and other Birmingham colleges will try to solve a “wicked problem,” which has been described as a highly complex problem to which potential solutions require both creative and interdisciplinary thinking. At 11 a.m., the Wicked Problem Case Competition presentations and judging will take place in RPHB 107, with cash prizes going to the first-, second- and third-place winners.

Also on Thursday is KoronisFest, a public service announcement (PSA) and poster competition taking place at the EOC. Entries vary from posters to animated PSA's submitted by community members as young as 13; all should bring awareness to public health issues. The reception starts at 5:30 p.m., followed by screenings and the awards ceremony. This year will also feature a tribute to Dr. Steve Rudd, the founder of KoronisFest who passed away last year.

Friday, April 5

On Friday, April 5, at 10:30 a.m., the UAB SOPH will cap off the week with the Wicked Health Problem Challenge, including UAB competing schools: SOPH, School of Nursing, School of Dentistry, Honors College, School of Education and School of Business. A total of $5,000 worth of scholarship money is on the line.

During NPHW at UAB, the Alabama Public Health Association’s annual meeting will take place at the EOC and the Hill University Center.

“We welcome alumni, our community and university collaborators to join us at these events,” Michael said. “They’re going to get a diverse local and national perspective on public health as it stands, which is very beneficial.”

For the NPHW schedule, including addresses and registration requirements, visit www.soph.uab.edu/nphw.

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