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What is Public Health?

According to the Association of Schools of Public Health, it is the science of protecting and improving the health of communities through education, promotion of healthy lifestyles, and research for disease and injury prevention. Public health professionals analyze the effect on health of genetics, personal choice and the environment in order to develop programs that protect the health of your family and community. For more information visit: http://www.whatispublichealth.org

Core Functions of Public Health:

From the CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/ephli/core_ess.htm

1. Assessment:

  • Monitor environmental and health status to identify community environmental health problems
  • Diagnose and investigate environmental health problems and health hazards in the community

2. Policy Development:

  • Inform, educate and empower people about environmental health issues
  • Mobilize community partnerships to identify and solve environmental health problems
  • Develop policies and plans that support individual and community environmental health efforts

3. Assurance:

  • Enforce laws and regulations that protect health and ensure safety
  • Link people to needed environmental health services and assure the provision of environmental health services when otherwise unavailable
  • Assure a competent environmental health workforce
  • Evaluate the effectiveness, accessibility and quality of personal and population-based environmental health services
  • Conduct research for new insights and innovative solutions to environmental health problems and issues

10 Essential Public Health Services:

  1. Monitor health status to identify community health problems.
  2. Diagnose and investigate health problems and health hazards in the community.
  3. Inform, educate, and empower people about health issues.
  4. Mobilize community partnerships to identify and solve health problems.
  5. Develop policies and plans that support individual and community health efforts.
  6. Enforce laws and regulations that protect health and ensure safety.
  7. Link people to needed personal health services and assure the provision of health care when otherwise unavailable.
  8. Assure a competent public health and personal healthcare workforce.
  9. Evaluate effectiveness, accessibility, and quality of personal and population-based health services.
  10. Research for new insights and innovative solutions to health problems.

Highlights of Public Health:

  • 1878 Congress enacts a federal law to prevent the introduction of contagious and infectious diseases into the US, later extending it to prevent the spread of diseases among the states.
  • 1906 Federal Pure Food and Drugs Law enacted (pasteurization, reduction of food borne pathogens, refrigeration, and sanitation).
  • 1912 Congress establishes the Public Health Service. Authority granted to study the "diseases of man and conditions affecting the propagation and spread thereof".
  • Eradication of diseases (smallpox, polio in US).
  • Tuberculosis, Diphtheria and diarrhea diseases have dropped off the list of the top fifteen killers.
  • Effectiveness of immunizations results in reductions of more than 99% for diseases including tetanus, rubella and pertussis.
  • Responsible for 25 of the 30 year increase in life expectancy from 47 years in 1900 to 80 years today.
  • Decline in deaths from coronary heart disease and stroke.
  • During 1915-1997, the infant mortality declined more than 90 percent and the maternal mortality rate has declined by 99%.
  • Identifying and correcting occupational health hazards.
  • Clean water and air.
  • Standards set in biological and pharmaceutical products.
  • Codes established for hygienic or technological practice.
  • Motor Vehicle Safety (use of seat belts and child safety car seats).

**Source: Public Health Functions Steering Committee

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