Health Literacy

Posted Date: May 24, 2017

helth_literacy2By Teresa Wagner

Picture a world where every person has a fair and equal chance to live a long and healthy life. Where no barriers exist in having this life. In this perfect world, certain groups would not have avoidable health differences. Differences from race/ethnicity, skin color, religion, or nationality. Differences from money or position in life, gender, sexual choices or gender identity. Differences from age, where you live, disability, illness, political or other group choices.
So, what gets us to this perfect world?

“Equity” means fairness; and “Health Equity” means a fair ability to reach full health potential. For some Fort Worth residents there are barriers too hard to break to reach “Health Equity” no matter how hard you try. Barriers such as ability to get good education and good jobs. Barriers such as ability to maintain good health, get good housing and a live in a safe environment. These are all called social determinants of health. They can change your ability to live a healthy, productive, happy and meaningful life.

UNTHSC School of Public Health hopes to help build “Health Equity” in Fort Worth and around the world. Communities get strong when people overcome barriers. This means helping people trying to quit smoking, trying to eat better, improving their literacy, and finding a better-paying job. Building a strong community means strong community programs and partnerships are important.

Fort Worth works towards community development through its Neighborhood Services division and work with AARP to serve the aging population. Fort Worth added more bilingual services and more quality and number of parks and housing choices. The Chamber works to improve job choices by bringing businesses to Fort Worth. UNTHSC SPH hopes to engage with the groups providing all of these services. Then, work to address homelessness, hunger and healthcare access as well as many other social determinants of health in our community.

UNTHSC SPH students and faculty do research to help lower the social determinants of health. We also help guide policy and have government connections to help solve problems. We watch mosquitos for West Nile virus, work to limit alcohol, tobacco and drug use and help moms have healthy babies. We also help people understand healthcare through improved health literacy. UNTHSC SPH finds ways to tackle the problems limiting “Health Equity” in our community.

New medical advances make our public health work even more important to address “Health Equity”. Public health works with health care researching the way peoples’ genes, environments, and lifestyles affect their health. Public policy and programs help to make sure everyone gets simple health information to stay healthy and well as part of “Health Equity” initiatives. Also, public policy can help make health care easy to access. Lastly, public policy can help place health education in K-12 schools. Thus, our kids can grow up to be healthy adults.

These programs require “a village” to help improve the health and wellness of Fort Worth residents. By engaging with the community locally, nationally and internationally, UNTHSC SPH helps community development and health professionals work together towards a common goal. That goal: create communities where all people can live full, productive and healthy lives.

Please click here for Dr. Teresa Wagner Profile