What is Public Health?
Public Health is a dedicated field of study that is focused on the prevention of diseases as well as improving the health and well-being of people and communities. Public Health professionals identify all aspects that contribute to a population’s health, both positively and negatively, creating programs and policies that enhance the good and mitigate the bad. In contemporary times, the concept of ‘Health’ in this science now also covers social health and mental health, in addition to physical health well-being.
What is the function of Public Health?
This function often sits under government, federal or municipal purview. This is because it is widely acknowledged how important the function is in preventing and reducing disease, death and incidences resulting from physical and mental issues. Core functions of Public Health policies and programmes include, but are not limited to;
- Monitor the health of a community, populace or nation
- Assess changing health trends, needs and threats
- Understand and incorporate new evidence-based research to update existing policy or programmes
- Commission or undertake research that can shape and improve health policies
- Set health and safety standards, benchmarks and norms that public and private institutions should adhere to
- Investigate and diagnose outbreaks, health hazards or problems to rectify them quickly
- Set prioritise on what health issues need to be tackled, when and in what order based on urgency or necessity
How does Public Health help?
Public Health professionals can enhance societal health and well-being by;
- Disease prevention through clean water initiatives, sanitation policies etc.
- Education of healthcare professionals in rural sectors about best practices
- Community run education programmes on nutrition and healthy eating to help reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease
- Establish outbreak protocols on a local and national level to minimise the spread of infectious disease
- Build policies that facilitate easy access to healthcare (affordability, more clinics etc.)
- Undertake research fo better understand diseases and infections in order to develop preventative measures
What are the potential careers in Public Health?
Professionals who wish to specialise in this field are not necessarily only relegated to health and administrative roles. They can branch out into multiple avenues, depending on their interest. Individuals who do wish to focus on this field often tend to study a Masters in Public Health degree. Upon graduation from this degree, possible career pathways are;
- Community Wellness Manager
- Scientists or Researchers
- Teachers: Health Education
- Social Workers
- Public Office, Policy markers
- Nurses and healthcare practioners