Thursday, October 7, 2010

DePaul Wellness: Small Changes Go a Long Way

It can be argued that a healthy and virile society is the foundation needed to achieve a flourishing economy. Without the members of society enjoying a high level of wellness, it is impossible to reach societal goals. In order to reach a community’s sustainable development objectives, healthy individuals are a necessity. While DePaul has made some progress toward achieving this, there are still areas to improve upon.

When the Affordable Care Act was signed into law earlier this year, $500 million was allocated to create the Prevention and Public Health Fund. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stated, “Investing in prevention and public health builds the foundation for improving the health and well-being of Americans... Investing in proven preventive services will help patients get the care they need early, avoiding costly and unnecessary care later.” DePaul has the unique opportunity to help contribute to the prevention of many diseases and ailments by implementing a few small changes.

The annual flu season and the outbreak of the H1N1 virus have the potential to affect many members of society. In past years DePaul has only received, and subsequently administered, a very limited supply of influenza vaccines. As a result, DePaul officials asked that only members of priority populations, children and the elderly, receive the vaccinations first. With many members of the DePaul community living in close proximity, the potential for influenza outbreaks affecting many individuals is high. Quite simply, more vaccinations and flu shots are needed to adequately protect the DePaul community. DePaul should attempt to acquire as many vaccinations as they can in a effort to stop a very preventable, yet potentially harmful illness.

Influenza and other ailments are spread through hand to mouth contact. The best way to prevent the spread of these illnesses is to wash one’s hands frequently. While washing one’s hand might not always be possible, using hand sanitizer is usually a viable option. DePaul should look to install hand sanitizer dispensers in buildings around campus. Signs and placards in bathrooms providing information about the benefits of washing one’s hands would also be beneficial. These are two relatively low cost improvements that could be implemented almost immediately. The effects and benefits of such changes would also be seen shortly after their implementation.

With less ill members of society, and less people needed to care for the sick, more resources and labor are available to pursue other sustainable development goals. By investing a little bit now in the prevention of illness and disease, care and treatment are not necessary later. DePaul should set an example and make a small investment in the health and wellness of those affiliated with the university. Administering a sufficient amount of flu shots as well as encouraging the washing and sanitizing of one’s hands frequently is the best way to achieve this. The Obama Administration has stressed the importance of prevention. DePaul should do the same.

Posted by: Nicholas Stratton

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