For the entirety of Week 2, the Public Health Association at UC Irvine hosted a National Public Health Week. Located on Ring Road near the Social Science towers, the event plans to bring awareness to various health topics that currently affect the United States.
Each day during Week 2 was dedicated to a specific public health theme for participants to learn something new about maintaining their own health as well as that of their community. The incentive of the event was to focus on the multiple intersections of public health through interactive and informational activities, along with the participation of other health-conscious organizations throughout the UC Irvine community.
On Monday, PHA’s theme was “Raising the Grade,” a day which brought awareness to certain social factors that affect the health of different populations through the analysis and education of important public health statistics. Tuesday was “Starting From the Zip,” where the organization took the day to discuss the disparities present across different racial, socioeconomic and other disadvantaged groups regarding health. Wednesday was dedicated to “Building Momentum,” and PHA. Participants came up with possible solutions to reduce and prevent prevalent diseases in our local community through fun, interactive games that encouraged participants to partake in simple exercises. Thursday was “Building Broader Connections,” a day that teamed up with several organizations, entities and public-health affiliated persons in order to carry out the solutions brought up in previous themed days. Finally, Friday was “Building on 20 Years of Success,” where the organization took the initial steps in applying these plans to better the health of the nation up to the year 2030.
“Each day is dedicated to a particular health topic that public health professionals are currently dealing with in the field,” said Shobana Muthulingam, Internal Co-President of PHA alongside External Co-President, Michelle Tan.
Healthier Nation 2030 is a public health initiative PHA associates with, and is the main source of their momentum as a student organization. This public initiative is headed by the American Public Health Association, which hopes to make the United States the healthiest nation by influencing federal policy through yearly events.
Muthulingam goes on to say that the primary function of PHA at UCI is to “continually serve the community with efforts aimed at disease prevention and health promotion. We are committed to empowering students and the general community so that we can make better choices and live healthier lives.”
Indeed, in the efforts made each day on Week 2, their organization took the necessary steps to show the common student at UCI just how important and intersectional public health can be. The organization additionally promoted global sustainability by hosting a recycling drive throughout this week: donating five plastic water bottles to this drive earned participants free tote bags funded generously by the TGIF Funding Board and a donation of 10 plastic water bottles to the drive earned participants free PHA plastic water bottles.
PHA is a thriving student organization that has had as many as 60 to 70 members in the past. The organization makes successful efforts to offer a multifaceted experience for its members, from hiking trips to pizza socials, sexual health workshops and volunteer opportunities. As the adviser for PHA, Public Health professor Dr. Zuzana Bic serves as a liaison between this student organization and the public health department. Consequently, PHA receives a tremendous amount of support from the public health department, especially when they seek for more participation from public health students and faculty members.
In reflecting on the goals of her organization and those of NPHW, Muthulingam concludes, “As public health students, our passions lie in creating more effective and efficient ways to provide healthcare to surrounding communities at a local, national, and global level. We hold this event in order to stress the importance of preventative care in order to reduce common diseases, as well as reduce the cost of healthcare in the US.”
This week served as an educational opportunity that encouraged more students to participate in Public Health Association (PHA) at UCI in hopes that the dialogues on public health will continue beyond the events they host.