One health issue affecting American citizens is poor health outcomes due to an unhealthy environment caused by human activities. The World Health Organization defines the environment as the physical, chemical, and biological factors that are external to a person. An important thing that humans look for in an environment is safety and security (American Public Health Association, 2020). This is because humans interact with the environment constantly that may influence them to certain behaviors and affect the quality of life. One effect caused by differences in environment is health disparities based on where a population is located (American Public Health Association, 2020).
Environment health focuses on preventing injury, the development of diseases, and disability that may be attributed to the interactions between people and their environment. The Healthy People 2020 has developed six objectives in relation to environment health. These include outside air quality, global environment health, toxic substances and hazardous wastes, surface and ground water quality, and homes and communities (HealthPeople.gov, 2020). However, creating a healthy environment is a complex process where continuous research is ensured to help healthcare providers to understand the effects of exposure to certain environmental hazards and how people can protect themselves from these effects. Global statistics indicate that 23% of all deaths are related to preventable environmental factors (HealthPeople.gov, 2020). Children are largely affected due to their size, physiology, and behavior with reports indicating that environmental hazards kill about 3 million children every year. These children may also suffer brain damage and developmental problems due to long-term exposure to chemicals such as lead (American Public Health Association, 2020). Another contributing factor is that children eat and drink more than adults where they are more exposed to pathogens and pollutants compared to adults. Due to their behaviors, they also face a higher risk of injury. Other people who are at a risk include people working in industrial and agriculture sector, pregnant women, and people with chronic illnesses (American Public Health Association, 2020).
Hazardous substances that are on the increase in the environment have continued to negatively affect human health. Since the environment affects diverse populations due to shared aspects of the environment, policy-makers need to develop effective strategies and interventions to prevent more harm to children and adults (Morales et al., 2020). This is because these hazardous substances, chemicals, and degradation of the environment is largely caused by humans through activities such as pollution, deforestation, overexploitation of resources, and burning of fossil fuels whether directly or indirectly.
If these human activities are not controlled, the nation would experience worse effects that may negatively affect the efforts of improving the health of all citizens (Morales et al., 2020). This may also incur the nation many resources in mitigating some of these negative effects. Due to the increasing population and demand for healthcare needs, it is important to safeguard the environment to prevent the development of diseases or injuries caused by an unsafe environment (Morales et al., 2020). This is because the environment also plays an important role in agriculture that ensures that all citizens can access food products.
Suggestions for Addressing Environment Health Including Necessary Stakeholders and Funding Consideration
Environment health can be addressed by educating the public on the importance of conserving the environment. This will inform individuals on the harmful activities that cause negative effects on the environment (Veenema, 2019). This can be done using campaigns and the different media platforms to reach to a diverse and large population. This is because every person has a role of protecting the environment that will enhance the achievement of the desired goals. The education process can involve training individuals on some of the strategies that can be used to improve the environment (Veenema, 2019). In developing these educational programs, community leaders should be involved to share their opinions and improve the implementation of the programs.
Another way of addressing this issue is by developing policies that enhance the current environmental policies. The United States has implemented several policies to address chemical exposure, safe drinking water, and energy (Eleanor Eaton & Alistair Hunt, 2019). One of these is the Toxic Substances Control Act that ensures that chemicals are safe where individuals are minimally affected. Steps to initiate policy change include identifying the need which is improving the environment, gathering adequate information relating to the issue, involving appropriate stakeholders, and drafting the policy (Eleanor Eaton & Alistair Hunt, 2019). Policymakers can develop alternative and innovative ways of disposing waste such as recycling plants. The government can collaborate with these industries to enhance decision-making and corporation.
Impact on the Health Care Delivery System
Environment health is a key part of any public health system since the environment impacts the health of individuals. The healthcare sector implements promotion strategies that are aimed at improving the environment to prevent the development of certain diseases (Stauber et al., 2018). An unhealthy environment will affect the efforts of the healthcare system in improving the health of American citizens. This is because of the negative effects associated with this type of an environment on the health of individuals. Since individuals share the same environment, these negative effects may affect a large population which may also require a large amount of resources (Stauber et al., 2018). This may reduce resources required in carrying out other important healthcare issues. An unhealthy environment may contribute to the development of diseases where more healthcare resources and providers are required to address the issue (Grand Canyon University, 2018). However, due to the current challenges in the United States healthcare system such as a nursing shortage, addressing this problem effectively will be a challenge. Since this issue affects all levels of the government, measures will be implemented at all levels that will increase the costs associated with this intervention (Grand Canyon University, 2018).
- American Public Health Association. (2020). Topics and Issues. Environment Health. Retrieved from https://www.apha.org/topics-and-issues/environmental-health
- Eleanor Eaton, M., & Alistair Hunt, P. (2019). Valuation of the urban environment by its potential impact on human health: a modelling study for the UPSTREAM project.
- The Lancet Planetary Health, S4-. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2542-5196(19)30147-0 Grand Canyon University. (2018). Community and Public Health: The Future of Health Care.
- Grand Canyon University. HealthPeople.gov. (2020). 2020 Topics and Objectives. Environment Health. Retrieved from https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/environmental-health
- Morales, J., Glantz, N., Larez, A., Bevier, W., Conneely, M., Fan, L., Reed, B., Alatorre, C., Paczkowski, R., Ahmed, T., Mackenzie, A., Duncan, I., & Kerr, D. (2020). Understanding the impact of five major determinants of health (genetics, biology, behavior, psychology, society/environment) on type 2 diabetes in U.S. Hispanic/Latino families: Mil Familias - a cohort study. BMC Endocrine Disorders, 20(1), 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12902-019-0483-z
- Stauber, C., Adams, E. A., Rothenberg, R., Dai, D., Luo, R., Weaver, S. R., & Heath, J. (2018). Measuring the Impact of Environment on the Health of Large Cities. International journal of environmental research and public health, 15(6), 1216. doi:10.3390/ijerph15061216
- Veenema, T. G. (2019). Climate Change-Related Hurricane Impact on Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Environment Risk Reduction, and the Social Determinants of Health. Nursing Economic$, 37(1), 13–22.