Definition and Goals of Public Health
Public health is a multidisciplinary field whose goal is to promote the health of the population through organized community efforts. (pp3-15 - Schneider, MJ Introduction to Public Health. Gaithersburg, MD: Aspen Publishers, Inc. 2000)
health achievements are difficult to recognize because it is hard to
identify people who have been spared illness.
For this reason, the
field of public health has received less attention and fewer resources
than the field of medicine has received. Nevertheless,
The public health system's activities in research, education and program implementation have made these accomplishments possible. In the United States this system includes federal agencies such as the CDC, state and local government agencies, nongovernmental organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving and academic institutions such as schools of public health. This complex array of institutions has achieved success through political action and gains in scientific knowledge. (pp 13-14, Schneider)
Politics enters the public health process when agencies advocate for resources, develop policies and plans to improve a community's health, and work to insure that services needed for the protection of public health are available to all. Political action is necessary because the government usually has the responsibility for developing the activities required to protect public health. Summarized from (pp. 2-3, Aschengrau A. Seage III, GR, Essentials of Epidemiology in Public Health, Jones and Bartlett Pub. 2003.