Health is a state of physical, psychological, and social well-being; this concept is not new to anyone. However, today, climatic change, malnutrition, and polluted water and air are major health concerns affecting the population at large.
The catastrophic effects of global warming and climate change are already being observed in the form of rising temperatures, extreme weather conditions, and increased incidence of infectious diseases. The World Health Organization predicts that by 2050, there will be 250,000 added deaths annually due to climate change alone.
In a world that’s facing an ever-increasing number of health issues, public health has become more significant than ever. It emphasizes that health issues can be better prevented with access to healthy foods, hygiene practices, and safe living places. Alongside accessibility, public health highlights the cruciality of promoting awareness around rising community health issues and its responsive precautionary measures.
What is Public Health?
Public health is “a complex, interrelated network of institutions, policies, rules, and regulations that help maintain the health of a community.” It includes strengthening the community’s ability to prevent diseases, mitigate their effects, and promote healthy lifestyles and behaviors.
Public health encompasses many disciplines, including medicine, epidemiology, biostatistics, and public health policy. Public health is faced with new challenges and opportunities emerging daily, from novel viruses to never-seen-before diseases and illnesses. As public health aims to improve and promote community health, keeping pace with evolving healthcare practices, technological developments, and policy changes is crucial to benefit at large.
It explains why healthcare careers are witnessing a staggering rise in demand, especially healthcare administration. Those willing to pursue this in-demand field can now opt for MHA online programs to kick-start their career. Online MHA teaches individuals the business and administrative aspects of healthcare. You learn how to manage healthcare organizations, lead healthcare transformation, and empower people to live better lives.
Now, let us look at the significance of public health.
1. Address Inequalities in Healthcare
Access to healthcare is a fundamental human right. It is not a privilege but a public good that should be accessible to all. Public health aims to promote overall community well-being by providing healthcare services and solutions, regardless of socio-economic status or race.
The field of public health is growing massively as it addresses various community issues like poor nutrition, chronic diseases, and addictions (to name a few). That’s why public health has become a popular career choice among healthcare students and professionals alike.
2. Aiding and Prolonging Life
Life expectancy is affected by several factors, including availing healthcare services and the quality-of-life people live in their communities. Since public health is concerned with the overall population health, it helps people live longer, healthier, and disease-free lives. It does so by rolling out awareness programs, promoting healthy practices, researching community issues, and carrying out vaccine drives.
For example, various vaccines prevent diseases like polio and measles by giving your body resistance to these illnesses. Vaccines are made from weakened forms of viruses, so they will not cause illness if you get them, but they still work as a protection against disease.
In many countries, people are living longer than ever before because they have access to better medical care and education about healthy lifestyles.
3. Prevent Disease Outbreaks
A key component of public health is epidemiology—the study of how diseases are spread. Epidemiologists investigate outbreaks to determine the causes and factors that make people sick and work toward preventing future occurrences.
Public health leverages advanced technology to detect disease outbreaks before they spread. It can be done through early detection methods such as laboratory tests and monitoring for trends in certain areas, such as food or water quality. Most importantly, public health necessitates identifying, addressing, resolving, and mitigating emerging diseases and viruses.
Preventing disease outbreaks is important because it can save lives and reduce suffering.
4. Empowering Individuals through Health Promotion
Public health is about empowering people to live healthier lives. It’s not just about preventing illnesses but promoting good health through positive lifestyle modifications, behaviors, and attitudes.
Health promotion is a process that aims to improve the health of individuals, communities, or populations through actions that focus on holistic well-being. It aims to:
- Boost physical and mental well-being
- Reduce risk factors associated with chronic diseases
- Increase access to healthcare services
- Make community facilities and resources available
5. Preparing for Emergencies and Disasters
Disaster risk management is a key component of public health since it focuses on safeguarding people and preparing them to respond to disasters and recover afterward. Public health professionals play a crucial role in preparing, preventing, managing, and responding to emergencies and disasters. They do so by:
- Developing strategic plans for monitoring the health status of affected populations during an emergency or disaster event
- Setting up training programs for emergency managers who oversee the implementation of these plans
- Help identify resources and equipment needed during such events
In addition to these direct actions, public health professionals also support other organizations involved in disaster management through their knowledge about disease patterns, trends, and environmental conditions that could affect disease transmission or recovery efforts.
6. Awareness of Health Hazards
Health hazards can be natural or humanmade.
Natural hazards include earthquakes, avalanches, floods, storms, and droughts. Humanmade hazards include pollution and urbanization, causing mild to chronic health issues. These hazards eventually lead to disease outbreaks like cholera, typhoid fever, etc.
Major environmental hazards are:
- Air pollution: The contamination of air by the release of air pollutants
- Water pollution: The contamination of water sources by waste products and industrial pollutants
- Soil pollution: The contamination of soil with chemicals, microorganisms, or pesticides
Public health focuses on creating awareness about these environmental hazards and encouraging people to take preventative measures, such as wearing masks when going out in polluted areas. Awareness campaigns may also include crucial conversations with people at risk of contracting certain diseases when exposed to various health hazards.
In today’s time, public health issues are rampant. From rising temperatures to poor air quality, food insecurity, and health inequity, public health challenges are taking new shape and form almost every passing year. However, to curb these health issues, public health professionals and policymakers are working tirelessly, devising strategies to address healthcare challenges and mitigate oncoming issues. Public health is a crucial healthcare domain that seeks to uplift community health and well-being.