When we think about the word “health”, we typically associate it with medical matters, so the definition of public health can seem a little confusing. Unlike the practice of medicine in clinical settings like a doctor’s office or hospital, public health is not a one-on-one discipline, nor do those in the field practice medicine. Instead, public health focuses on improving and protecting community health and well-being, with an emphasis on prevention among large groups of people.
Most of us rarely think about these roles until a crisis, such as a devastating hurricane, captures our attention. But public health officials many of whom may hold public health degrees work on a daily basis to keep people healthy and safe, locally and around the world, by preventing disease and injury.
The field of public health is constantly evolving in response to the needs of communities and populations around the world. The underlying mission of public health is to improve the conditions and behaviors that affect health so that all people can attain it. That mission includes not only the practice of public health policy, but the research of public health issues and the education of future leaders who eventually will translate that research into practices and policies to improve the health of people regionally, nationally, and globally. According to BCU Public Health, here are the 10 Importance of Public Health:
- Public Health studies play a major role in fighting off the biggest killers of humans. Public Health professionals, who have either studied a Public Health degree or Health Studies related course, are constantly battling diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and dementia to maintain the health and well-being of the population.
- A fundamental quality of Public Health is its preventative nature. Prevention is far more effective and far less expensive than cure.
- Public Health is important due to aiding and prolonging life. Through the prevention of health issues, individuals can spend more of their years in good health.
- Public Health helps detect health issues as early as possible and responds appropriately to avoid the development of disease.
- It is diverse and takes into account the health of the whole population, rather than focusing on health at an individual level.
- Public Health is important as it ensures everyone is aware of health hazards through educational programs, campaigns, and influencing government policies.
- It is important because you are constantly building new skills and expanding as a person. This is due to the nature of the work promoting growth through day-to-day activities and taking part in major projects and campaigns.
- Public Health is important because you are constantly striving to close the inequality gap between people and encourage equal opportunities for children, of all ethnicities and genders.
- Health is a human right and as a Public Health professional you are ensuring no one is disadvantaged regardless of their socioeconomic background.
- Public Health is important because you become the voice for individuals who have no voice and simply put, your influence on the improvement of someone’s health can be great satisfaction.
Essential Public Health Services (Revised, 2020)
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a national public health institute in the United States, under the Department of Health and Human Services, the 10 Essential Public Health Services are:
- Assess and monitor population health status, factors that influence health, and community needs and assets
- Investigate, diagnose, and address health problems and hazards affecting the population
- Communicate effectively to inform and educate people about health, factors that influence it, and how to improve it
- Strengthen, support, and mobilize communities and partnerships to improve health
- Create, champion, and implement policies, plans, and laws that impact health
- Utilize legal and regulatory actions designed to improve and protect the public’s health
- Assure an effective system that enables equitable access to the individual services and care needed to be healthy
- Build and support a diverse and skilled public health workforce
- Improve and innovate public health functions through ongoing evaluation, research, and continuous quality improvement.
COVID-19 Pandemic Heightens The Importance Of Public Health- WHO
With people advised to observe physical distancing and good hygiene habits amidst the pandemic, health experts have constantly reminded that the simple practice of handwashing with soap and clean water is also one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs and viruses.
For Bolanle Popoola, a laboratory technician, imbibing the act of handwashing regularly with soap had required deliberate effort despite the knowledge that this could save her and her family from contracting infections as well as prevent them from spreading germs and viruses. She explained that she found it easier to continue with her work without washing her hands with soap because she most times wears a glove.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been taking extra effort to wash my hands with soap and water. I knew this before the outbreak, but there are times you neglect doing the right thing. We are told right from childhood to always wash our hands after playing, before eating, after using the toilet, and as often as possible. Handwashing is not only for people working in laboratories or hospitals, it is for everybody. You don’t know what bacteria or germ you might have picked from the rails, from door handles, or other surfaces, she says.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, WHO with the support of international health partners like UNICEF, UNIDO, UNFPA, IOM, OCHA, and UNHCR, has been supporting the Federal Government in raising awareness on the importance of hand hygiene and integrated waste management to reduce risk behaviors among Nigerians. Many of which are beginning to yield success.
To Influence behavioral change, WHO developed and disseminated 1000 Metallic Handwashing Notices to agencies and ministries, departments and agencies. The notices contain the steps for proper handwashing and emphatic orientation that proper hand hygiene prevents coronavirus, Lassa fever, Cholera, and several diseases ALSO SEE: What Is The Function Of Public Health?