What is public health?
Public health is the science of promoting and protecting the health of communities. It involves research, disease prevention, policy formulation and implementation and the prevention of injuries and disabilities. It is an inter disciplinary field comprising Medicine, Biology, Anthropology, Public policy, Mathematics, Engineering, Education, Psychology, Computer science, Sociology, Business and many others.
Public health deals with populations rather than individuals. While Medicine is focused on treating the sick, the major goal of public health is to prevent disease through organized efforts.
Branches of public health
There are 5 major core competencies in public health they are;
- Environmental health.
- Health services administration.
- Behavioral science/health education.
Focus Areas of Public Health Practice
In public health practice, there are 3 major domains. These are;
- Infectious diseases
- Chemicals and poisons
- Environmental health hazards
- Emergency response
- Clinical governance
- Clinical effectiveness
- Service planning
- Surveillance and monitoring of specific diseases and risk factor
Responsibilities of Public Health Professionals
As custodians of public health and trust, professionals in the field of public health are trained to carry out critical services geared towards promoting safety, preventing diseases and improving health. The responsibilities of public health professionals include;
- Educate, Empower and Inform- Public health professionals are responsible for health enlightenment and awareness creation on issues such as drug addiction, obesity, smoking, STDs etc.
- Monitoring and Evaluation – Public health professionals investigate and monitor disease patterns and other health problems in the community.
- Mobilization- They are critical stakeholders in community health as such they are involved in the mobilization of the community for intervention projects and other partnerships aimed at solving community based health challenges.
- Policy Development – Public health practitioners are also involved in the development of policy and plans that compliments community health efforts.
- Law Enforcement – Public health laws and regulations especially those relating to food safety and competence of public health and personal health care workforce are handled by public health professionals
- Research – As a discipline, public health relies heavily on research and tools of research. Public health professionals are consistently striving to find innovative solutions to current health problems.
Where do Public Health Professionals Work?
Public health professionals work in government agencies that deals with issues relating to public health and safety. Examples include Food and Drug Administration (FDA), National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Center for Disease Control (CDC) amongst others. They also work in International Agencies and Non-profit organization such as UNICEF, Red Cross, Save the Children and others.
In addition, public health professionals form the back bone of state and local health departments, health care organizations, health insurers and pharmaceutical companies.