Public Health: A Year-Round Effort to Keep North Carolina Healthy

Raleigh

County public health departments across North Carolina are keeping families and communities safe year-round through immunizations, screenings, infectious disease control and promotion of healthy lifestyles, while also meeting the challenges of addiction, overdose and a rising death rate related to opioid misuse.

The important contributions of North Carolina’s strong public health system are highlighted this month by a proclamation from Governor Roy Cooper designating April as Public Health Month. Public health departments provide flu vaccines, screen for health issues, take precautions to keep disease from spreading and promote tobacco cessation efforts. Opioid misuse has become a focus of health officials as the opioid crisis swells across the state.

“Reducing opioid addiction and overdose related deaths are top priorities of North Carolina’s Public Health system,” said Danny Staley, director of the N.C. Division of Public Health, part of the Department of Health and Human Services. “We are working with our colleagues at the Department of Health and Human Services and our partners in the public and private sectors to address the opioid crisis and help implement North Carolina’s Opioid Action Plan.”

Public health officials’ focus is on increasing awareness and prevention of opioid misuse, reducing the oversupply of prescription opioids and the flow of illicit drugs, making naloxone widely available to those in need and linking overdose survivors to care.

“Our statewide system of public health — local, state and private sector — is comprised of dedicated professionals,” Staley said. “They carry out our mission every day through a wide range of activities, programs and services that touch the lives of everyone in North Carolina.”

Last fiscal year, public health outreach efforts for immunizations with its partners resulted in 77.8 percent of 19- to 35-month-old children in North Carolina receiving the childhood series of seven vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, 64.8 percent of North Carolina adults 65 years of age or older received a flu vaccine in the same period.

Other public health outreach includes Tobacco Prevention and Control’s QuitlineNC, which provides telephone, online and text coaching, along with nicotine replacement therapy for those who qualify. Success rates for Quitline users are high, with 27 percent quitting use of tobacco products through coaching alone, and 39 percent quitting if they are also able to use nicotine patches.

For more information on North Carolina’s Division of Public Health and its many programs and services, visit publichealth.nc.gov

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