What Public Health is Really About?

Updated on September 29, 2020

What if I told you that Public Health as a science is just over a hundred years old? Public Administrations are in charge of a set of organized activities, called “Public Health“, which are in partnership with society.

According to Herodotus, the Egyptians were the main sages in the management of health. Personal hygiene was very important, they made a large number of formulas and pharmaceutical recipes, they built drainage channels to eliminate wastewater.

The Hindustani were the pioneers of cosmetic surgery. The Hebrews included Leviticus (1500 BC) in the Mosaic Law and it is considered to be the first book written on the hygiene code. The Greeks, for example, emphasized personal hygiene, diets, and physical exercise more than the typical problems of environmental sanitation.

For their part, the Romans are famous for the way they manage sanitary engineering, the construction of aqueducts, and public baths.

What is Public Health called?

In the field of preventive medicine and public health, the first question that arises, in general, is what is public health? 

To explain it better, let’s put a metaphor. Imagine a suspension bridge like from the movies, made of wood, slatted, swaying with the brush of the wind, a dangerous bridge.

Now imagine there are hundreds of people who have to cross that bridge back and forth to get to work. What do you think will happen? Many of these people will end up falling off the bridge, will be injured, or some will even be killed. 

Given this, we can do two things, or we can send ambulances every day to take the injured to the hospital, which is known as “assistance medicine” (the medicine of all life), or we can change the bridge to make it safe, put fences and prevent people to fall. This is known as “disease prevention” and generally known as public health.

This, which is a bit extreme example, also happens in things of daily life. For example, environmental pollution generates many respiratory diseases, but they can be prevented if we promote renewable energy, public transport, or implement anti-pollution laws. The same happens with diseases that are derived from lifestyle, for example from poor diet, tobacco, or alcohol.

These situations could be avoided through education campaigns, through restrictions on advertising, and by modifying the prices of these products.

Another successful example is traffic accidents, which have been greatly reduced in part thanks to campaigns such as the mandatory seat belt, breathalyzer controls, or improved road and vehicle safety. 

The same occurs with infectious diseases, which have been greatly reduced thanks to advances such as vaccination or improvements in sanitation and hygiene. After all this, you may still be wondering OK but what about the staff?

What does a public health professional do in their day today?

Its many functions include research and the health problems of the population, knowing their causes, monitoring them, controlling them, and being able to carry out actions to protect the health, prevent diseases, and promote health

For example, clinics like MiracleRehabClinic.com are also important, as they assist doctors, with treatment, long term therapy and other complications.

These tasks require a lot of people and teamwork. Not only health professionals participate in public health, but also economics, law, social sciences, mathematics, politics, and of course, citizens. 

That is why the definition of public health is the collective effort of the whole of society to prevent disease and promote health.

Essential Public Health functions

  • Diagnose, evaluate, analyze, and monitor the health situation.
  • Reduce the impact of emergencies and disasters on health.
  • Evaluate and promote equitable access to the necessary health services.
  • Promote health.
  • Guarantee and improve the quality of individual and collective health services.
  • Research in public health.
  • Public health surveillance, research, control of risks, and damages in public health.
  • Active participation of citizens in health.
  • Strengthen the institutional capacity to regulate and supervise public health matters.
  • Develop human resources and train in public health.
  • Development of policies and institutional capacity for planning and management in public health matters.


Now you know, every time you see a public transport promotion campaign, a traffic sign, a no-smoking sign, a vaccine, or a very safe bridge, it is thanks to public health.

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