Apr 04, 2019 9:00 AM

Author: Judy Ou, PhD


a photo of judy ou
Judy Ou, PhD

The first week of April is National Public Health Week, which celebrates a growing movement to create the healthiest nation we can. The public health system prevents diseases, including cancer. Public health officials look for patterns to understand why cancer and other diseases happen, teach people about healthy decisions, and create policies that make sure we live in healthy, safe communities.

Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) works to prevent cancer in many ways:

  • Health educators teach people about cancer prevention.
  • The Cancer Learning Center provides free resources and answers questions about cancer.
  • Research studies explore the environmental and behavioral causes of cancer.
  • Outreach programs provide health information to specific communities and the broader public.

We asked some of our staff, “What does public health mean to you?” Here’s what they said:

garrett harding talks to media at the community open house
Garrett Harding speaks with the media at a health education event for the public.

“To me, public health is synonymous with prevention. Public health professionals, including those at HCI, are stewards and advocates of the diverse communities they serve, working together to improve lives, reduce disease, and advance health equity. The work is never easy, but it is always worth it when you are able to educate, empower, and change behavior.”

Garrett Harding manages community outreach at HCI, including coordination of the Community Advisory Board
jane ostler leads a team of health educators
Jane Ostler (left) leads a group of future health professionals to deliver sun safety education in rural communities in Wayne County, Utah.

“Public health is prevention. It empowers people to make positive health choices for a better life. Connecting people to trustworthy health information and resources is what I love most about my job as a health educator. It is an honor to have people share their health journey with me and to know I played a role in helping them find solutions, even by simply answering their questions. I have learned that public health is so much more than helpful recommendations. Public health teaches us that though disease, disparity, and death make us all human, our humanity is made meaningful through shared culture, diversity, and experiences.”

Jane Ostler is a health educator for the Community Outreach and Prevention Education program at HCI

Although public health involves many players and parts, the most important part about public health is the public. Without widespread engagement and interest in our efforts, HCI would not be able to accomplish our goal of preventing cancer.

Judy Ou is an epidemiologist and postdoctoral fellow in the Kirchhoff group. Her research interests include long-term risks among cancer survivors and exploring links between environmental factors and cancer outcomes.

public health cancer prevention health equity

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