First in a series of Webinars to educate community on COVID-19 teaches digital audience about public health

Dr. Tania Basta, Dr. Michelle Reece and John Sunnygard speak to participants of the WKU COVID-19 Learn-On Public Health Webinar on April 9.

Abbey Nutter

The WKU Office of Global Learning and International Affairs partnered with the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning to present the first in a series of webinars Thursday afternoon to educate the WKU community about COVID-19 amid the current pandemic.

The webinar featured John Sunnygard, associate provost for Global Learning and International Affairs; Tania Basta, dean of the WKU College of Health and Human Services; and Michelle Reece, assistant professor from the WKU Department of Public Health.

Beginning the discussion by defining public health, Basta stated she and Reece would be speaking from a social and behavioral perspective as per their backgrounds.

“There’s many definitions of public health, but the one that I prefer is from the American Public Health Association, and it basically says that public health promotes and protects the health of people and the communities where they live, learn, work and play,” Basta explained.

Basta went on to say that public health is a variety of governmental and non-governmental agencies working together to protect human health.

According to Basta, this task is accomplished through the prevention and control of disease transmission.

“These agencies at any given time might be monitoring our health status and or assessing the health needs of individuals [and] groups in your communities and then designing an appropriate intervention response,” Basta said.

Reece said that one thing that the current COVID-19 epidemic will aid in is the addressing of health disparities.

“We know the research shows that persons who are socio-economically disadvantaged, who are minorities, the poor persons — they tend to always have poor health outcomes,” Reece explained. “This is not just here in the United States of America, but this is globally.”

Sunnygard, who served as host for the webinar and asked Basta and Reece questions concerning public health, commented that without doing the intervention methods Basta described, the situation with COVID-19 could’ve been more horrific that it already is as a global and national tragedy.

“Something that really strikes me about about public health — I think everyone can associate the work of a doctor or a nurse in terms of maintaining their own personal health, but they may not be fully aware of all the different activities that are going on to ensure that we live and work and play and learn in a healthy environment outside,” Sunnygard said.

News reporter Abbey Nutter can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @abbeynutter.