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Dougherty to acknowledge Public Health Week

ALBANY, Ga. -- The local health district is joining its counterparts throughout the country this week to shed some light on what it is they contribute to the community.

In observance of National Public Health Week, the Dougherty County Health Department will host a pair of free "Lunch and Learn" sessions promoting "A Healthier America: One Community at a Time."

"Each year we celebrate Public Health Week to provide the public awareness of what we do in the community," Southwest Public Health District Director Dr. Jacqueline Grant said. "It just brings out the importance of public health on a local level."

On a daily basis, the area health district, which encompasses 14 counties, makes strides toward stamping out disease and conducting regular restaurant inspections.

"We do things behind the scenes, so sometimes we need to toot our own horn," Grant said.

Today, Grant will present "The Role of Public Health in the Community." District Epidemiologist Jackie Jenkins will present "The State of Health in Dougherty County" on Friday.

"They (the Dougherty County Health Department) wanted to provide an overarching view of public health and then provide the state of health in Dougherty County," Grant said.

The district has been engaged in an ongoing campaign aimed at illness prevention dubbed "Hooked on Health." It has been designed to encourage behaviors such as being more active, eating healthy, getting regular health screenings, being tobacco-free and utilizing stress-reducing techniques.

"Probably our biggest issue health-wise is the burden of chronic disease," Grant said. "We bear a bigger burden because of things connected to our lifestyles.

"We see those things (the Hooked on Health initiatives) as things one can do to control their health. People can do them regardless of race, ethnicity or wealth status. They can still engage in healthier behaviors."

Nearly 900,000 Americans die from deaths that could be prevented each year, according to the American Public Health Association. An estimated 46 million people currently smoke, which raises their risk of developing heart disease, lung cancer and other devastating illnesses. Nearly one in three children are obese, the average child gets less than 15 minutes of vigorous activity daily and, for the first time, American children may live shorter lives than their parents, the APHA also reported.

"We just think it's important for people to understand what public health is," Grant said.

The lunch and lecture sessions are set for noon-1 p.m. in the Education Center of the health department, located at 1710 S. Slappey Blvd.

While there is no cost to attend, officials require advance registration to ensure sufficient seating and lunches will be available.

"They have had pretty good attendance at most of their events," Grant said.

To register for the sessions or for more information, call (229) 430-6230.