Have you eaten at a restaurant lately? Did you brush your teeth this morning? If so, the Department for Public Health (DPH) has touched your life. DPH doesn’t only inspect the conditions of restaurants you visit, but also worked to make Kentucky the first state to add fluoride to your water to help protect your teeth.
As a component of Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, DPH is dedicated to promoting healthier communities through prevention, promotion and protection. As Commissioner, I am responsible for overseeing approximately 500 dedicated professionals who are committed to your health and well-being, as well as the various health services and programs they implement throughout the Commonwealth. Our office works closely with local health departments in all 120 Kentucky counties to ensure that they have the resources and tools to meet their communities’ needs.
Over the past year, Kentucky’s heroin epidemic has been our top priority, and is a crisis unlike any we have ever faced in public health. To address this tragic epidemic, DPH has focused on establishing and expanding preventive programs beginning with early childhood education (K-3) stressing the negative consequences of alcohol, drug, and tobacco use and educating our children about the positive outcomes associated with good nutrition and exercise. We have also launched a mobile pharmacy traveling statewide dispensing Narcan, an overdose antidote, and testing Kentuckians for Hepatitis C and HIV, both of which are increasing challenges in our communities largely due to drug addiction.
Serious chronic illnesses including breast, colorectal, and lung cancers continue to be a major focus of DPH along with the prevention and self-management of diabetes. Other problems we face in public health relate to the long-term consequences of smoking and its link to emphysema and breathing disorders, among many other health problems. DPH offers a variety of programs and services at little to no cost to the public to help ensure all Kentuckians have access to health resources in their community.
We are excited to launch this year’s National Public Health Week in the Commonwealth. Our Public Health workers are incredibly dedicated, committed, and talented, and we are glad to highlight their efforts to promote the health and well-being of their communities. We look forward to kicking off the 52 Weeks of Public Health, a weekly awareness campaign highlighting the benefits of public health, designed to help Kentuckians accomplish our goal of being the “healthiest nation in a generation.”
Hiram C. Polk, Jr. M.D.
Kentucky Department for Public Health