What Constitutes Public Health? (2023)

Public health is the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting good health through the organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations, public and private, communities and individuals.

In contrast to healthcare professionals, who focus on treating patients after they become ill or injured, public health practitioners try to prevent problems from occurring or recurring through implementing educational programs, recommending policies, administering services and conducting research.


Public health is the science and art of promoting and protecting the well-being of people. It is concerned with preventing disease, prolonging life and improving physical and mental health.

It is also concerned with environmental factors that impact on health such as pollution, sewage and hazardous substances in the food, water, housing and work environment.

To achieve these objectives, public health focuses on developing and applying scientific knowledge to prevent diseases, promote health and protect against harmful environmental factors.

Public health includes a variety of disciplines from biological sciences to social and behavioral sciences. They all share the common belief that the human body is a complex system and that it is not only affected by what individuals do but by their lifestyles, genes, environment and social networks as well.


Public health encompasses all actions that protect individuals, families and communities from disease and injury. These activities include research, education, policy and advocacy.

The field of public health is global in scope and aims to promote the well-being of all people throughout the world. It is a growing and dynamic field with many career opportunities.

There are a number of areas within public health including epidemiology, biostatistics, public and community health, environmental health and behavioral health.

While the main focus of public health is on the health of a population, it has also become increasingly important to address factors that affect the health of all individuals and their relationships to one another. These factors are known as "social determinants of health".


Public health professionals work to prevent disease and injury and mitigate the effects of illness when it occurs. They do this by educating people, providing services and implementing policies, laws and plans.

In addition, there are many other functions that contribute to the health of a population: regulation (setting rules), financing and resource generation. All of these are essential for ensuring that the health system is functioning properly.

The overall design of a health system is also an important function. This includes policy formulation at the highest level and the way in which all the other functions are organized.

In many countries, there has been a great deal of technical effort to define which services fall under the remit of public health and to assess their performance. However, these efforts have evolved very differently in different contexts and with mixed results.


Public health professionals play an integral role in promoting and protecting the health of society. They work closely with healthcare researchers, government officials and community stakeholders to develop and advocate for action plans, regulations and laws that can help improve community health.

In addition to promoting health, public health experts focus on the prevention of disease and injury. They use scientific evidence to identify causes of illnesses, environmental hazards and genetic disorders, and to create intervention strategies and healthcare policies that help prevent them from recurring.

Many diseases are preventable through simple, nonmedical methods. For example, handwashing and sanitizing drinking water supplies can help prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Other preventive measures include vaccination programs and distribution of condoms.

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