The responsibility of public and community health in the United States is both a public and private endeavor. The federal, state and local governments have emerged as forces that shape the health care system in recent years. The health sector is shaped through policies that address specific public and community health issues that affect people. The federal, state and local governments share responsibilities in different spheres of health issues. These three levels of government effectively interact through shared policy formulation, financing and delivery of programs to address specific public and community health issues.
The Health Issue
Alzheimer’s disease is a significant health issue in the United States. Tang et al. (2016) maintain that Alzheimer’s is an irreversible and progressive brain disease that directly affects more than 5.1 million people in the United States. It interferes with the functioning of the brain leading to deteriorated cognitive function like memory loss, speech problem and poor execution of daily routine activities. The first notable symptom of Alzheimer’s disease is memory impairment (Tang et al., 2016). The person suffering from Alzheimer’s disease may contend with memory loss to the extent of failing to recognize family members as well as friends. Alzheimer’s disease is a common health issue in local communities and affects about 90 percent of the elderly people (Tang et al., 2016). The disease is caused by a mix of genetic, environmental in addition to lifestyle factors.
Structure of Public Health
The United States addresses Alzheimer’s disease as a public health issue. Per Beitsch et al. (2006), the public health is not a single product or service but is a collection of agencies and stakeholders. The responsibility of tackling Alzheimer’s disease rests in specific agencies drawn from the national, state and local levels. Beitsch et al. (2006) reveal that on the local level Alzheimer’s disease is managed by the local health departments. Consequently, the Bureau for Public Health and Health Care Authority manage public health issues at the state levels (Beitsch et al., 2006). Consequently, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) manage Alzheimer’s disease at the federal level (Beitsch et al., 2006). There are about 2,864 local health departments in the United States serving about 73 percent of the America population (Beitsch et al., 2006). The public health and management of Alzheimer’s disease is managed by the local boards of health at the states level. The local boards license practitioners, formulate policies and implement public health programs.
Functions at the Levels
The function of the national public health is to advance early detection and diagnosis. Tang et al. (2016) outline that the earlier Alzheimer’s disease is diagnosed, the sooner care can be provided. For example, the CDC research studies have in the past examined the direct link between heart and brain health. From the research undertakings conducted by federal agencies, health care promotion programs are instituted to address the need to modify cardiovascular risks. The modification includes quitting smoking, consuming healthy diets and implementing physical activities as part of lifestyle changes. The federal public agencies ensure that the elderly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease access present treatment and interventions, build care-teams and participate in support services.
The local health departments accelerate risk reduction through health promotions. The local agencies engage in extensive health promotion to educate the local communities about the dangers of traumatic brain injury and how it leads to Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, local health departments organize for sensitization session to explain the need for the elderly to quit smoking and implement lifestyle changes (Brownson et al., 2018). In essence, the local agencies are in close contact with the people implying that these agencies are better placed to reduce the risks of Alzheimer’s disease. They reduce the risk by advocating for healthy lifestyle to improve the quality of life.
The states through boards of health ensure medical professionals provide safe and quality care. In essence, the local boards are in-charge of licensing making sure that only qualified and competent nurses offer care to Alzheimer’s patients. Brownson et al. (2018) declare that the challenges encountered when providing care to Alzheimer’s patients are overwhelming. For example, Alzheimer’s patients may be admitted in long-term care centers. Therefore, the states ensure that nurses taking care of these patients guarantee safe and quality care. In addition, local boards help improve the health and functioning of Alzheimer’s patients by assuring that medical professionals attending to them utilize evidence-based guidelines and procedures.
Working as a Unit
The three levels of government work together in the areas of policy formulation, advocacy, resource mobilization, monitoring, and empowerment. The Alzheimer’s disease is addressed by education local communities as well empowering them to implement diet and lifestyle change. In addition, the three levels develop policies expected to address health issues posing challenges to communities and also source for funding through partnerships (Beitsch et al., 2006). Consequently, the levels of governments ensure consistency in evidence-based practice and training of medical professionals so that particular communities are not disadvantaged. National, state and local agencies work together by closely monitoring Alzheimer’s disease problems as well as evaluate the effectiveness of treatment interventions.
The American health system is constantly addressing myriad of health issues, including Alzheimer’s affecting majority of the elderly within communities. The national, state and local governments need to work together through concerted efforts of policy formulation, funding, partnership, mobilization, health promotion and monitoring to improve the effectiveness of the health system. The strong partnerships of the three levels of government show that each level has a role to play in the public and community health system intended to improve the population’s quality of life.
Beitsch, L. M., Brooks, R. G., Grigg, M. & Menachemi, N. (2006). Structure and functions of state public health agencies. American Journal of Public Health, 96(1), 167–172.
Brownson, R., Baker, E., Deshpande, A. & Gillespie, K. (2018). Evidence-based public health. New York: Oxford University Press.
Tang, Q., Song, P. & Xu, L. (2016). The Government’s role in regulating, coordinating, and standardizing the response to Alzheimer’s disease: Anticipated international cooperation in the area of intractable and rare diseases. Intractable & Rare Diseases Research, 5(4), 238–243.