The Olympics are a one of a kind event; athletes from all over the world are brought together for just over two weeks. The host city and nation experience a large influx of visitors wanting to travel, experience the city and watch the athletes compete. The dramatic increase in international travel causes an equal increase in risks, especially regarding public health. Public health, according to the World Health Organization (2016), refers to “all organized measures (whether public or private) to prevent disease, promote health, and prolong life among the population as a whole.” Public health encompasses and integrates many fields including epidemiology, emergency response, research, medicine, sanitation, etc. (American Public Health Association, 2016). Public health can help officials assess, attempt to control, and respond to many risks including disease and injury outbreaks, environmental hazards, and terrorism threats.
Mass gatherings like the Olympics amplify the usual health risks such as outbreaks, infectious diseases, food and water borne illnesses, and injuries, as well as environmental hazards, and terrorism (Jorm, Thackway, Churches, & Hills, 2003; Green & Burnham, 1998). A method for identifying abnormal changes in these health risks is vital to protect the overall health of citizens and visitors. The host city/country also needs to be able to provide adequate, quality medical care for the large population gathered under unusual circumstances (Wetterhall, Coulombier, Herndon, Zaza, & Cartwell, 1998). In order to protect citizens and visitors, a public health surveillance system (PHSS) can be utilized. A PHSS is defined as the “ongoing systematic collection, analys...
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...customizable in that the host nation or city can choose what aspects of health to monitor more or less closely based on the highest health risks in the given location. The process of developing and implementing a surveillance program is not an easy task as it requires careful thought and detailed planning. The health risks may also change as the Olympics draw near. With health risks fluctuating based on the time of year and other unforeseeable causes, the programs need to be adaptable to the newest, most relevant, and ever-changing health risks to the population. Sydney managed to host the games with very few changes in overall injuries, communicable disease transmission, and terrorism threats. Therefore indicating that if a new host country/city models their PHSS after the one used in Sydney, it is possible to host an Olympic Games that will leave a positive legacy.
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