Boy Scouts learn about their personal responsibilities and the community aspects of public health while working on the Public Health merit badge.
The field of public health deals with maintaining and monitoring the health of communities, and with the detection, cure, and prevention of health risks and diseases. Although public health is generally seen as a community-oriented service, it actually starts with the individual. From a single individual to the family unit to the smallest isolated rural town to the worldwide global community, one person can influence the health of many.
Requirements for the Public Health Merit Badge
- Explain what public health is. Explain how Escherichia coli (E. coli), tetanus, AIDS, encephalitis, salmonellosis, and Lyme disease are contracted. Then, pick any four of the following diseases and explain how each one is contracted: gonorrhea, West Nile virus, botulism, influenza, syphilis, hepatitis, emphysema, meningitis, herpes, lead poisoning. For all 10 diseases, explain the type or form of the disease (viral, bacterial, environmental, toxin), any possible vectors for transmission, ways to help prevent the spread of infection, and available treatments.
- Do the following:
- Explain the meaning of immunization.
- Name five diseases against which a young child should be immunized and two diseases against which everyone should be reimmunized periodically.
- Using the diseases you chose for requirement 1, discuss the diseases for which there is currently no treatment or immunization.
- Discuss the importance of safe drinking water in terms of the spread of disease. Then, demonstrate two ways for making water safe to drink that can be used while at camp. In your demonstration, explain how dishes and utensils should be washed, dried, and kept sanitary at home and in camp.
- Explain what a vector is and how insects and rodents can be controlled in your home, in your community, and at camp. Tell why this is important. In your discussion, explain which vectors can be easily controlled by individuals and which ones require long-term, collective action.
- With your parent's and counselor's approval, do ONE of the following:
- Visit a municipal wastewater treatment facility OR a solid-waste management operation in your community. Describe how the facility safely treats and disposes of sewage or solid waste. Describe how sewage and solid waste should be disposed of under wilderness camping conditions.
- Arrange to meet with the food service manager of a food service facility (such as a restaurant or school cafeteria) and visit this establishment. Observe food preparation, handling, and storage, and learn how the facility keeps foods from becoming contaminated. Find out what conditions allow microorganisms to multiply in food and how conditions can be controlled to help prevent the growth and dissemination of microorganisms. Learn how microorganisms in food can be killed. Discuss what you learned with your counselor.
- Do the following:
- Describe the health dangers from air, water, and noise pollution.
- Describe health dangers from tobacco use and alcohol and drug abuse.
- With your parent's and counselor's approval, visit your city, county, or state public health agency. Discuss how the agency addresses the concerns raised in requirements 1 through 6 and how the services provided by this agency affect your family. Then do the following:
- Compare the four leading causes of mortality (death) in your community for any of the past five years with the four leading causes of morbidity (incidence of disease) in your community. Explain how the public health agency you visited is trying to reduce the mortality and morbidity rates of these leading causes of illness and death.
- Explain the role of the health agency you visited related to the outbreak of diseases.
- Discuss the kinds of public assistance the agency is able to provide in case of disasters such as floods, storms, tornadoes, earthquakes, and other acts of destruction. Your discussion can include the cleanup necessary after a disaster occurs.
- Pick a profession in the public health sector that interests you. Find out the education, training, and experience required to work in this profession. Discuss what you learn with your counselor.