The overall health of a specific population in a specific locale is ultimately the byproduct of a large amount of specific characteristics of that population. Since no two locales are exactly the same when it comes to population size, age, and other factors, it follows that the overall health of a specific locale is completely unique when compared to another locale. In addition, the risk factors faced by a specific locale are unique to that locale only, so to properly identify these risk factors, specific information must be gathered about a population in order to produce actionable results.
Understanding Environmental Factors
Just as no two locales share the same population, neither do two locales share the same set of local businesses. This means that one important part of risk assessment is identifying potential hazards caused by the location of various business so that the proper authorities are able to alert the population.
Risk assessment companies consider a wide variety of factors including population density near businesses, the pollutants released by those businesses, and the efforts those businesses have taken to mitigate the effects of those pollutants. By better understanding these risk factors, proper steps can be taken to identify vulnerable communities and assist them in protecting themselves against any negative effects.
Understanding Population Characteristics
Knowing the specific population makeup of a particular locale is another important responsibility of risk assessment teams. Again, since each locale is unique in its population makeup, there will be unique risk factors stemming from age, race, and socioeconomic factors. Once these variations are properly understood, better progress can be made to prepare for the risk factors inherent in a population possessing such characteristics.
For example, in order to effectively deploy the seasonal flu vaccine, local and state governments need to understand the population variations in their specific locales to know how much of their populations are a part of a high risk group. Though the vaccine is recommended for nearly everyone, there are certain groups who need it more and certain groups who are more likely to heed the warnings to get the vaccine. Understanding these population variations will ensure a specific locale is prepared with enough vaccines for every person who desires to get one.
Preparing for the Future
A solid understanding of the current landscape in a specific locale is only part of the story of risk assessment as it relates to public health. To effectively serve a community, risk assessment teams must also provide an effective road map for limiting future risks to ensure that a population remains as healthy as possible over the long term. By understanding current challenges, risk assessment teams can make recommendations on public infrastructure, hospital availability, population distribution, health education availability, and many other factors that influence and aid in a locale becoming and remaining healthy. With the help of civic leaders, these suggestions can then be put into action to ensure that, across the local population, everyone rises toward the goal of better health.
An important aspect of any risk assessment effort is that it must cross boundaries of industrial, educational, ecological, governmental, and physiological disciplines. Any one aspect of society can easily identify risk factors within itself, but until it understands how it affects the broader population, is unlikely to do anything about it. By getting a clear picture of how each part of a locale depends on each other part to survive and thrive, it is likely that greater incentive will be given to those areas that need to change to actually make that change happen.