What is public health?

According to American Public Health Association, those in the U.S. are living 20 years longer than their grandparents’ generation, thanks largely to the work of public health. Still, people in many other high income countries live longer and suffer fewer health issues. This is a defining challenge for us today – a challenge that we, through public health, are helping overcome.

Improving our health means ensuring conditions that give everyone the opportunity to be healthy.

Public health raises our awareness, and protects the health of the people within its communities, ensuring it’s a safe place to live, learn, work, and play.

Public health differs from medical health

While a doctor treats people who are sick, those of us working in public health try to prevent people from getting sick or injured in the first place. We also promote wellness by encouraging healthy behaviors.

From conducting scientific research to educating about health, people in the field of public health work to assure the conditions in which people can be healthy. That can mean vaccinating children and adults to prevent the spread of disease. Or educating people about the risks of alcohol and tobacco. Public health sets safety standards to protect workers and develops school nutrition programs to ensure kids have access to healthy food.

Public health works to track disease outbreaks, prevent injuries and shed light on why some of us are more likely to suffer from poor health than others. The many facets of public health include speaking out for laws that promote smoke-free indoor air and seatbelts, spreading the word about ways to stay healthy and giving science-based solutions to problems.

Public health saves money, improves our quality of life, helps children thrive and reduces human suffering. Some examples of the many fields of public health include: first responders; restaurant inspectors; health educators; scientists and researchers; nutritionists; community planners; social workers; epidemiologists; public health physicians; public health nurses; occupational health and safety professionals; public policymakers; and sanitarians.

Source: American Public Health Association

Many people don’t understand what public health is or how it impacts their daily lives. The “This Is Public Health” video, designed by Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH), lets let people know that public health affects them on a daily basis and that we are only as healthy as the world we live in. We hope it might inspire you to promote public health awareness in our community.