Why population health?

Since high school, I’ve been fascinated by the concept of health promotion and preventing poor health across populations (known in SF as primary prevention). I still remember that moment in my year 11 health and social studies class where I first woke up and realized that there are so many factors which impact on our health which are outside of our control. Factors which seem to have nothing to do with health. Nothing to do with doctors or medicine. We were learning about the Social Determinants of Health.

Where we live, where we were raised, our education, work, social status, the price of food, support of family and friends, social norms, transport, feelings of safety and the local and global economy can all impact on our health.

The more I learned, the more I started to see the ways some of these factors may be affecting the health of people around me. “Is that why so&so’s mum smokes and has diabetes?” I used to wonder.

Since then my passion for public health has only grown and I’ve been fortunate enough to study and work in health promotion and public health.

Until about May 2014, my husband Tom and I lived in Melbourne, Australia where I worked in the fantastic Healthy Communities team at Wyndham City (local government) who were tasked with reducing the upward obesity trend and preventing related chronic disease within a local population. I loved our approach to this. We aimed to create long-term positive change to the environments in which people live, learn, work and play. We were changing the factors which affect people’s health.

I’m now pursuing my health promotion career goals through the advocacy and non-profit sector as a Community Organizer for the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition and a team member of the BIKES ONboard project of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. I also serve as a member of the Caltrain Bicycle Advisory Committee.

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