What is public health? This video series gives the answer
So what is public health, anyway? As the American Public Health Association celebrates its sesquicentennial in 2022, the organization decided to produce a series of 20 short videos titled “That’s Public Health.” Working with YouTube and Complexly, an online production company, the APHA set out to show why issues from climate change to gun violence to racism affect public health and how addressing them can improve our well-being.
The videos started posting in January, with the first 10 hosted by Mighty Fine, director of the APHA’s Center for Public Health Practice and Professional Development. (Deboki Chakravarti, a science educator and blogger with a PhD in biomedical engineering, is hosting the rest.) Fine spoke with editor-in-chief Michael Fitzgerald about the effort. This interview was edited and condensed.
Q. What is the purpose of the video campaign?
A. It showcases the possibilities of public health. It’s a way to hit those high-level issues within public health in a bite-sized manner, to talk about what we do and what more we need to be doing to create the healthiest nation we can. People want to understand the world they’re living in better and feel empowered to make shifts happen. These videos help folks to realize how attainable these shifts can be and how, even if you’re not a public health professional, there’s still work that you can do to be a part of the solution. That’s what I’m really hoping these videos can do.
Q. Have you had any reactions that stood out for you?
A. I’ve had people email me or DM me on social media and let me know they forwarded videos. Some people are really excited that it’s a person of color doing this. I was on the Metro here in D.C., and a woman kept looking at me—I had my mask on—and she said, “I don’t mean to be rude, but do you work for the American Public Health Association and have you done some videos?” That was kind of cool because it was super random. I mean, you want people to view the videos, but I didn’t think I would actually cross paths with someone who didn’t already know me and watched them.
Q. In your day job you present all the time. Was this different?
A. They had to reel me in a little bit, because when I do presentations I am all over the place, like, in the audience. I like to have conversations with the folks I’m speaking to and have a dialogue. You know, your pie chart, your confidence intervals and all that is critically important to the work that we do. But my grandmother doesn’t care about a confidence interval, right? She wants to know, what can I do to stay healthy? What can I do to stay safe? You know, what’s my part in this?
Q. You’re the voice and face of public health, for the moment. How does that feel?
A. I’m extremely passionate about public health, both personally and professionally. Having a larger stage than I’ve ever had before to communicate that to the masses, it’s rewarding.
Top image: Mighty Fine in a scene from the APHA’s “That’s Public Health” video series.
Michael Fitzgerald is editor-in-chief of Harvard Public Health.