Public Health Week Promotes Healthy Communities And Healthy Kids

Contact: T.J. Bucholz (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

April 6, 2006

As part of National Public Health Week, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is promoting awareness of a different public health issue each day this week. “Safety on the Go” Day highlights the importance of preventing accidental injuries and violence as a critical solution toward building healthier communities and raising healthier children.

Accidental injury is the number one killer of Michigan’s children, and despite an overall decline in injury-related death, death rates for children of low-income families continue to increase. However, it is estimated that by taking simple precautions, almost 90 percent of accidental injuries can be avoided.

“Through proper use of safety devices, eliminating unsafe environments and behaviors, and ensuring adequate adult supervision, we can all play an important role in protecting Michigan’s children,” said Dr. Kimberlydawn Wisdom, Michigan Surgeon General.

Children are also extremely vulnerable to violence. Children under the age of four are most likely to be victims of child maltreatment or sexual abuse. Homicide is the third leading cause of death for all races of children and the second leading cause of death for African American children.

School-aged children are more likely to encounter school violence and bullying behavior. In the 10-14 year of age group, suicide overtakes homicide as the third leading cause of death for all races. Homicide is now fifth. Gun and street violence create additional risk factors and homicide is again the second leading cause of death for the 15-19 age group. For African American males and females, it is the leading cause of death.

Not only are accidental injuries and violence a leading cause of death and disability in both Michigan and the United States, they also result in much physical and emotional suffering and are very costly in terms of medical care expenditures, lost income, and lost productivity.

“Michigan is fortunate to have so many dedicated organizations and coalitions working at the state and local levels to provide training, programs, resources, and safety-related devices,” said Janet Olszewski, MDCH Director. “By making injury and violence prevention a priority, our kids will be safer and healthier.”

For more information on safety and violence prevention, please visit www.michigan.gov/injuryprevention or contact the MDCH Injury and Violence Prevention Section at (517) 335-9517.

National Public Health Week 2006 focuses on empowering Americans to assess the status of the built environment and children’s health in their communities. Local health departments, community coalitions, schools, businesses, healthcare, and faith-based organizations are encouraged to identify areas for improvement and implement model programs. To assist with this process, electronic toolkits are available online at www.malph.org (click on “Events”).

To learn more about Public Health Week and events taking place across the state this week, visit www.apha.org/nphw.