Community health monitoring is the regular collection of information about relevant components of health and its determinants among a select group of people or in samples thereof. This process is aimed at getting relevant data that could be useful when it comes to informing the public health policy process.
The health components mentioned above are only considered to be relevant if they cover issues of significant public health importance.
This includes variables such as numbers and trends, costs, geographic spread, and health impact. It is also important that there is a consistency between the components, which include health issues and their determinants, in terms of how the people in charge of the whole process understand the mechanisms of health and diseases.
Community health monitoring can also be done with the aim of identifying changes in the health status of a select group of people because of exposure to certain potentially dangerous substances. A health monitoring doctor will examine and monitor the health of the people to see if the exposure to hazardous chemicals is affecting their health.
This is usually done when there are some activities such as mining or chemical production being done within the area.
Health monitoring is also usually done on a group of workers working in a particular place where they are exposed to certain substances. The process is more or less the same and involves a health monitoring doctor who conducts or at least supervises the whole program.
The doctor will choose the best way to go about the health monitoring of the workers and will choose the best way depending on the following factors:
- Regulatory requirements under the model WHS laws
- The type of chemical involved
- The way the workers have been exposed
- The level of exposure
- If the work environment has control methods or equipment that help mitigate the exposure
- If it is possible to use a proactive way to monitor adverse health effects
The Process of Health Monitoring-
Now that we’ve defined what health monitoring is and seen the instances where it is applied, it’s time to look at exactly how the process goes about. The health monitoring doctor will use different ways to assess the situation looking to find the best possible way to move forward. The different methods are discussed below in detail.
This is basically just a brief question and answer between the doctor and the people involved. The main aim of this exercise is to help the doctor find out more information about the patients’ wellbeing and try to assess the situation.
Common questions asked at this stage include symptoms that the person may have been experiencing, occupational history, medical history, and possible lifestyle habits such as diet or smoking.
At this point, the health monitoring doctor will educate the community on the effects of certain lifestyle habits on symptoms of exposure.
A good example that gets thrown around is the people who have smoking habits are advised on the risks of lead ingestion and potential effects. The doctor might also touch on how exposure to certain chemicals can affect normal human activities such as reproduction, pregnancy, and breastfeeding children.
This is the stage where the doctor conducts tests to see the extent of damage caused by the chemical exposure. The results will be helpful both in the short and long term because they can be used as a baseline to measure future changes against and determine if the situation is getting better or worse.
Factors That Contribute To A Healthy Community-
After expounding on what community health monitoring is all about and looking at the different ways in which people go about it, we are now going to look at the factors that contribute to a healthy community.
Access to Health Services:
This is one of the most important contributing factors. The availability of quality health services and how accessible it is to the community plays a very important role in the overall health of that particular community.
When there are hospitals and qualified doctors around, then it is easy for people to get treated whenever they are ailing. It is also easier for them to go for checkups and get educated about the right health practices.
This is another critical factor. In as much as people may have access to health services and have doctors, sometimes finances are a factor, and they just can’t afford to take advantage of the health services available to them. This is why having health services available is not enough, and it needs to be affordable to the community.
The solution to this is the government providing funding to hospitals so that they can lower the cost of services to the community. Alternatively, the community can take up medical insurance policies to help them be able to afford the medical services available to them.
By physical environment, we are referring to outside factors such as the quality of air or how clean the water flowing in the pipes is. In places where the air is clean and free of pollutants, and the water flowing in the pipes is pure, the community is more likely to be healthier as compared to polluted neighborhoods.
While some factors may be entirely beyond our control, there are those we can handle, and it is entirely up to us. The lifestyle you choose to live is your call. The kinds of food the people eat and the amount of exercising they do can play a role in the overall community health. In a place where a majority of the people are smokers and like to eat junk and other unhealthy foods, then the community is less likely to be healthy collectively.
Community health monitoring is an essential process and can play a very significant role in ensuring the people in a certain area remain healthy. It also enables people who have been exposed to potentially harmful substances to be well taken care of and the effects mitigated.