The role of public health is to contribute to the health of the public through the assessment of health and health needs, policy formulation, and assurance of the availability of services .
Concerned with social justice.
World Health Organisation (WHO) definition of health – ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’. This tends to conceptualise health as something that is ideal and is not necessarily attainable, so a more recent WHO definition: ‘Health balance refers to the maintenance of the physical, psychological and social balance of any social group or individual, health potential to the group’s or individual’s capacity to cope with environment and psychosocial demands or stresses’.
Ten core activities of public health (US Health and Human Services Public Health Service, 1995):
1. Preventing epidemics
2. Protecting the environment, workplaces, food and water
3. Promoting healthy behaviour
4. Monitoring the health status of the population
5. Mobilising community action
6. Responding to diasters
7. Assuring the quality, accessibility and accountability of medical care
8. Reaching out to link high risk and hard to reach people to needed services
9. Researching to develop new insights and innovative solutions
10. Leading the development of sound health policy and planning
The science and art of improving the populations’ health through the organised efforts of society using the techniques of disease prevention, health protection and health promotion.