It is desirable that the March / April 2009 Number of dimensions ASTC focused on public health. On April 7 is World Health Day to raise awareness on global health issues and commemorates the founding of the World Health Assembly in 1948. As an epidemiologist who is immersed in the daily work of public health, consider that the term “public health” as an effort to ensure the good health of individuals and their communities through disease prevention and promoting healthy behaviors. This effort builds on the cooperative work of scientists and providers of health care to identify, describe and measure the important issues of health. Public health requires the collaboration of these scholars with policymakers and educators to translate data into a lasting improvement of individuals and communities.
Education is fundamental to the success of public health. However, to truly improve the health of our communities, communication and learning must be active and should inspire people to change behavior or a lawyer for the advancement of society. It is extremely difficult to change health behaviors established. However, the education received from multiple sources, particularly if there is an active component to education is an important instrument for change.
Science centers are particularly well suited for this type of active teaching and learning. As such, science centers around the world can play an important role in educating the public about health issues. Centers provide opportunities for hands-on, in-depth exploration of a theme, including the opportunity to discuss with colleagues, family members or teachers. Through active learning taking place in science centers, people can gain a better understanding of a subject that would be gained from passive learning, such as reading a chapter in a book.
A couple of years, I had the pleasure to serve as project consultant for the exhibition in the Disease Detectives of Science Museum of Minnesota (SMM), St. Paul. This exhibit puts visitors in the role of a patient assessment, examination of epidemiological data, laboratory work of interpretation, diagnosis and learning about the causes, transmission and prevention of a significant number infectious diseases, such as Shiga toxin E. coli producer, influenza and malaria. My role was to advise on the medical and scientific content of the exhibition.
At first I had no idea how SMM was to take complex information and translate it a bit dry in a fun and an explanatory link. It is rather surprising that the final product experience and observe the visitors were pleased to listen to lung sounds, using pulsed-field drawings to compare the molecular fingerprints of microbes, and assessing the importance of protective measures such as mosquito vectors. Practice of learning activities on disease prevention and much more attractive than the usual methods of education for public health, such as brochures, websites, or speech which increases the likelihood that people retain the information. The visitors spent the time carefully going through the exhibition, reading material and discussion with family members, friends and colleagues. Looking at the ages people 3 to 83, I felt that exposure of fertile ground for the development of epidemiologists, health professionals, scientists and health advocates.
It is clear that science centers are key partners in promoting public health. Centers have the opportunity to promote understanding of health problems by actively engaging a visitor at a time. To quote Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of
thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, in fact, the only thing that ever has. “As a professional public health and promote, I am truly grateful for their work.