What is Public Health
Public Health is the science of protecting and improving the health of families and communities through the promotion of healthy lifestyles, research for disease and injury prevention and detection and control of infectious diseases. Overall, public health is concerned with protecting the health of entire populations. These populations can be as small as a local neighborhood, or as big as an entire country or region of the world. Public Health professionals try to prevent problems from happening or recurring through implementing educational programs, recommending policies, administering services and conducting research - in contrast to clinical professionals like doctors and nurses, who focus primarily on treating individuals after they become sick or injured. Public health also works to limit health disparities. A large part if public health is promoting healthcare equity, quality and accessibility.
Core Functions & Services of Public Health
The fundamental purpose of Public Health is defined by the three core functions:
- Assessment: The regular collection, analysis and sharing of information about health conditions, risks and resources in a community.
- Policy Development: The development of local and state health policies using information gathered from assessment activities. Policy development incorporates information sharing, citizen participation, and involvement in policy and decision making.
- Assurance: Focuses on maintaining the capacity of public health to respond to critical situations such as disease outbreaks and environmental hazards, as well as the delivery of health care to persons who otherwise would not have any.
10 Essential Services of Public Health
- Monitor health status to identify community health problems.
- Diagnose and investigate health problems and hazards in the community.
- Inform, educate and empower residents about health issues.
- Mobilize community partnerships to identify and solve health problems.
- Develop policies and plans that support individual and community health efforts.
- Enforce laws and regulations that protect health and ensure safety.
- Link people to needed personal health services and assure the provision of health care when otherwise unavailable.
- Assure a competent public health and personal health care workforce.
- Evaluate effectiveness, accessibility, quality of personal and population-based health services.
- Research for new insights and innovative solutions to health problems.
* Source: National Association of County and City Health Officials