“In a world facing considerable uncertainty, international health development is a unifying – and uplifting – force for the good of humanity” —Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General, World Health Organization (2017f).
How do epidemiology and communicable disease affect local, community, state, national, and global health care?
How do global health issues shape the provision of health care?
What socioeconomic variables could be modified to impede or halt disease development?
Which Sustainable Developmental Goals apply to direct improvement of global health?
How does societal unrest disrupt global health goals?
National and global threats to health are monitored by local, state, national, and international agencies and organizations. Researchers seek to identify and control these threats or eliminate them entirely. The principles used to examine and achieve prevention or control of disease are foundational to public health care.
Nurses gain knowledge and skill by learning research approaches that use statistical data to predict the potential for disease and identify the probabilities associated with disease prevention. In this chapter, initiatives to reduce threats to population health are discussed on both the national and global scale. The process used to investigate diseases that threaten a community or a larger population is also explored, in addition to methods nurses can employ to avert or reduce disease impact.
Global Perspective of Health
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an agency of the U.S. federal government, has multiple responsibilities to protect national and global health. T CDC is the foremost public health agency of the U.S. government. The CDC’s mission is to protect the nation’s health, safety, and security from threats within and from outside the United States (CDC, 2014).
This agency operates 24 hours a day 7 days a week to uncover and react to local, national, and global health threats while using evidence-based methods and technology to prevent, contain, or eliminate disease, disability, and death in the United States (CDC, 2017). This includes the development of a public health workforce that promotes health and safety for individuals, communities, and the environment (CDC, 2014). The United States participates directly or indirectly in global programs that affect the nation’s health, such as activities lead by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The WHO, an agency of the United Nations, is considered the “global guardian of public health” (World Health Organization [WHO], 2016, p. 1) and has the overall role of global health security . Global health security is defined as proactive and reactive activities that reduce vulnerability of populations to health threats regionally and internationally. The health care system spans all countries of the globe and, while each country organizes the delivery of care differently, there are health concerns that all countries face.
The health threats include disease outbreaks , malnutrition, bioterrorism, harmful environment or climate, and any emerging disease , epidemic , endemic , or pandemic . The frequency of world travel increases the likelihood of a health issue being transported from one country to another. The guardians of global and national health security implement policy and preventative measures to control and eradicate the national, regional, and international threats.
According to the WHO’s Director-General, Dr. Margret Chen, “countries with strong health systems are better prepared to cope with the added demands on health services and staff that outbreaks and other health emergencies inevitably bring” (WHO, 2017f, p. 27). Thus, monitoring global health threats and assisting other countries with health issues is pertinent to the CDC and national health security.
Epidemiology is the study of disease appearance, course, spread, and eradication. The science, research, and technology associated with epidemiology aids the development of strong health systems. Applied epidemiology is the application of epidemiologic studies for control and prevention of diseases and other health problems.
Epidemiological principles, including public health assessment, policy development, and public assurance, are applied throughout the essential functions and services of public health delivery. With various subspecialties, this science involves the interplay of human, animal, and insect populations and the environment. Epidemiologists aim to discover the factors affecting disease occurrence, determine who has the greatest risk from these factors, and evaluate the effectiveness of health services to reduce risks and improve population health.
Disease detectives is a name that applies to the scientists, physicians, nurses, veterinarians, and other health professionals who work as Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) officers (CDC, 2018). These detectives conduct field investigations to identify causes of outbreaks or sudden eruptions related to diseases and health problems. Table 2.1 provides a list of public health problems and events that EIS officers investigate.