Defining Public Health

Public health is a field that aims to meet the medical needs of entire communities, in contrast to “typical” health professions, who aim to meet medical needs at an individual level. Sanitation, vaccines, contraception, environmental regulations, etc. all encompass regular functions of public health. I would argue that public health is one of the most (if not the most) important career sectors in the contemporary world. In our current society, humans need (healthy) humans in order to achieve “progress,” or whatever that elusive term may represent. A community can therefore not succeed if there is a continuous, debilitated workforce impeding it. In order to combat this, public health seeks to ensure that a community is indeed healthy.

Due to globalization, our ever-shrinking world is consistently redefining what it means to work in public health, as communities continue to become more interwoven with one other. Because of this interconnectedness, public health officials have been forced care deeply about health in not just their own communities, but in communities around the world. In 2014, the entire world began to fear when West Africa experienced an Ebola outbreak. We knew that one short flight by someone does not know that he/she is affected by the virus could cause the outbreak to spread to anywhere in the world in less than a day. Such has been the reality for less than a century of all of human history. Globalization has not simply brought on the increased migration of diseases, however, but also an increased trading and collaboration on technology. Today, a vaccine that may be developed in Germany can be easily accessible today in all parts of the globe within the span of a week. Additionally, public health officials from different areas of the world are not only able to use each other’s work, but they are also able to collaborate with one other, either by traveling to be with one another in person or by collaborating ideas virtually. While the means to protect public health are ever changing, the sole goal has stood the test of time – ensure the health of the public.

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