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National Public Health Week at Drake

Each year, organizations and communities across the country hold events in conjunction with National Public Health Week. Drake University is taking it one step further, adding “global” to the traditional title in an effort to broaden the geographic scope of the programs.

“The purpose of the week is to raise awareness of public health issues, the importance of supporting public health programs and to highlight the opportunities for study in this field at Drake and careers afterwards,” said David Skidmore, director of the Principal Financial Group Center for Global Citizenship.

The three-day program is sponsored by the Principal Financial Group Center for Global Citizenship and is organized by adjunct professor Meghan Harris.

The week will kick off tonight at 7 p.m. with a screening in Bulldog Theater of the recently released film “Contagion,” which highlights public health work in action, specifically the field of epidemiology.

“Outbreaks and infectious diseases often make the news, and we thought it would be interesting to show a film about it,” Harris said. “Though sensationalized, the movie recognizes the potential impact a novel disease could have on our society.”

Tomorrow, speakers from several Iowa universities — including the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, Des Moines University and Drake — will discuss international public health work in Harvey Ingham 102 at 3 p.m.

Finally, a career panel will wrap up the week on Wednesday in Cline 206 at 6 p.m. The three speakers include the following: Tom Newton, former director of the Iowa Department of Public Health and current director of Network Engagement at Wellmark, will discuss his rapid assent into the director’s position and how his professional life has since changed; Jami Haberl, executive director of Safeguard Iowa, will talk about her career in emergency preparedness; and Polly Carver-Kimm, a former Des Moines radio personality turned public information officer for former Gov. Chet Culver and for two administrations at the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Skidmore said that while Drake has been participating in events for Health Week for several years, the main focus this year has shifted to public health rather than health overall.

“Public health deals with the health of populations rather than of individuals and is distinct from those aspects of the medical care system that focus on direct doctor-patient relationships,” Skidmore said.

Skidmore said some examples of public health programs and campaigns include clean water and sanitation, responding to outbreaks of contagious diseases, public education about adverse health impacts of tobacco use, overeating and education about good pre- and post-natal health practices.

Though not formally part of the Center for Global Citizenship’s program, Drake’s ONE chapter is holding a related event at Gray’s Lake Park on Thursday. From 6 to 8 p.m., there will be a two-mile walk to benefit the Nyamirama Health Center in Rwanda. The cost is $5 for students and $10 for everyone else, and admission includes a free water bottle, food, prizes and live music from a local student band. Proceeds from the walk will go to the FACEAIDS Adopt A Health Center Campaign run by Partners in Health.

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