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Profiles in Public Health

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Henry Olano

MPH, Global Health, Epidemiology

1. In one sentence, what is public health to you?

Public health fosters people’s wellbeing by providing our local, national, and global communities with the necessary tools for them to prevent disease and practice healthy living.

2. What inspired you to study to public health?

Growing up in a foreign country before moving to the U.S. allowed me to perceive the great inequities and inequalities in the health of different groups of people around the world. I am inspired to find solutions to decrease the burden of disease within local communities, as well as in communities around the globe. This inspiration is driven by the possibility of being able to positively impact the health of entire populations, rather than single individuals.

3. What has been the single most rewarding experience of your career/studies so far?

My most rewarding experience was being able to attend the 2013 American Public Health Association’s annual meeting in Boston. I was lucky to be able to present the findings of a secondhand smoke research project on which I have been working for the last two years. My audience included academics and epidemiologists from all over the country. It was also very interesting to be able to meet investigators and professors of a myriad of public health topics, as well as to learn from the presentations of fellow researchers.

4. What is the one piece of advice you wish someone had given you when you were starting out in public health?

Come with an open mind! It is so important to approach public health with a broad perspective and without biases or expectations. It is important to be able to understand and accept the mindset of the people directly affected by certain issues. Only then can one work toward aiding them in helping themselves to become and stay healthy.

5. What do you think is the biggest challenge that the public health field should be focusing on?

Reducing inequities of access to health care in the U.S., and ensuring security of health globally.

By providing a strong healthcare system and ensuring that everyone has access to it, we could succeed in creating a framework that over time could lead to a decrease in the burden of disease and the promote the maintained wellbeing of people around the world. This of course would require a multidisciplinary effort, including education and empowerment campaigns, environment remodeling and sustainability, and restructuring of the current health and political systems.

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