National Public Health Week: Public Health is ROI

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This week is National Public Health Week (NPHW). The annual observance brings U.S. communities together to recognize the contributions of public health and highlight issues that are important to improving the public’s health. The theme for National Public Health Week (NPHW) 2013 — Public Health is ROI: Save Lives, Save Money – spotlights the value of prevention and the importance of well-supported public health systems in preventing disease, saving lives and curbing healthcare spending.

National Public Health Week 2013

The U.S. spends more on healthcare than any other country in the world. From 1980 to 2010, healthcare costs rose ten-fold and are expected to rise faster than national income during the foreseeable future. However, investing just $10 per person each year in proven, community-based public health efforts could save the nation more than $16 billion within five years [1]. That’s a $5.60 return for every $1 invested. Indeed, the value of a strong public health system is all around us — in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and the places where we all live, learn, work and play. It’s in the people whose lives are saved by seat belts, the people who say no to tobacco and drugs, and the children given a healthy start with vaccines.

This week, from April 1-7, 2013, NPHW 2013 will focus on the small, easy steps people can take to protect their health and show how public health makes it all possible.

Public Health is ROI: Save Lives, Save Money

Nearly 1 million Americans die every year from preventable diseases. Chronic, preventable illnesses, such as heart disease and diabetes, account for 75 percent of U.S. healthcare spending ($1.5 trillion per year). Yet only 3 percent of our healthcare dollars go toward preventing disease [2]. In business, a return on investment, or ROI, refers to the amount of profit made in relation to the capital invested. In public health, ROI is different, referring to avoided medical spending due to investments in prevention and early disease detection. By supporting public health and prevention, we can transform a health system that’s now focused on treating illness to one focused on preventing disease and promoting wellness. And we all have a role to play. By taking small actions, we can help our families, friends and communities see the much larger benefits of prevention.

Here are this year’s daily themes for National Public Health Week:

  • Monday, April 1: Ensure a Safe, Healthy Home for Your Family
    Health and safety begin at home; make prevention a fun family tradition. Install a smoke alarm on every floor of your home. Post this number on your fridge and in your cell phone — 1-800-222-1222 — to automatically connect you to your regional poison control center and often life-saving information.
  • Tuesday, April 2: Provide a Safe Environment for Children at School
    Schools are the perfect setting for improving child health. Organize for school-wide policies and action against bullying and create a safe space for kids experiencing bullying to get help. Encourage your child’s school to stop stocking soda and junk food in school vending machines.
  • Wednesday, April 3: Create a Healthy Workplace
    Wellness and safety in the workplace are good for health and for business. Take simple steps to create workplace wellness, such as posting handwashing reminders, catering meetings with healthy foods or organizing workplace walking groups.
  • Thursday, April 4: Protect Yourself While You’re on the Move
    Safety on the go is often in our own hands. Always buckle your seat belt no matter how short the trip. That text message can wait! Don’t text while driving. Learn more at
  • Friday, April 5: Empower a Healthy Community
    Support public health efforts that create healthy opportunities for all. Stay up to date on recommended vaccinations for yourself and your loved ones. Support local farmers markets and other access points to fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s not only good for your health; it’s good for the local economy too.

For more tips and ideas, click on the day/date links above.

In 1995, President Bill Clinton declared the first full week of April National Public Health Week (NPHW). The public health community across the United States celebrates NPHW by focusing on an issue that is important to improving the public’s health. The success of NPHW lies with each and every organization and individual who takes up the cause of public health and seeks to improve health in their communities. Check the NPHW Calendar to see if there is an event being held in your area.

Highlight HEALTH recognizes and supports National Public Health Week. We are all living examples of the public health return on investment. Join the Movement!


  1. Levi et al. Prevention for a Healthier America: Investments in Disease Prevention Yield Significant Savings, Stronger Communities. Trust for America’s Health. 2009 Feb.
  2. APHA. The Prevention and Public Health Fund: A critical investment in our nation’s physical and fiscal health. 2012 Jun.
About the Author

Walter Jessen, Ph.D. is a Data Scientist, Digital Biologist, and Knowledge Engineer. His primary focus is to build and support expert systems, including AI (artificial intelligence) and user-generated platforms, and to identify and develop methods to capture, organize, integrate, and make accessible company knowledge. His research interests include disease biology modeling and biomarker identification. He is also a Principal at Highlight Health Media, which publishes Highlight HEALTH, and lead writer at Highlight HEALTH.