What is Public Health?

When I hear the words, “public health”, the accompanying word “crisis” immediately comes to mind. I envision world-wide health threats such as Ebola and Zika that I have seen headline CNN and BBC during their respective outbreaks. I remember reading reports about public health officials from all over the world making their way to West Africa and Brazil to assess these epidemics and make efforts to prevent their spread. However, in reality, I realize that this “definition” of public health is only a subset of the complete picture. Public health is a massive subject area with focuses in healthcare, medical treatment policy, and outreach for better educating the public, not simply epidemiology (the study of diseases). I have to thank my sister for helping me paint this more complete picture of what public health really is with her six years of education in public health. Many people develop a misconception of public health simply because of the attention that public health receives in the news at the time of epidemics. Additionally, the lack of attention public health officials receive when attempting to push for reform in equally pressing issues such as health care further this peninsular definition. In my opinion, public health is just as important on a local scale as on a global scale. It is perhaps in even greater need of attention on a small scale, as outreach efforts made in the community are frequently easier to execute and often times more effective than the large scale crisis responses efforts. With many problems in America alone, such as a “broken healthcare system” and the lack of an accompanying universal medical record system, public health is ever important to keep lines of communication open to inform the public. Organizations such as the WHO are always vital in the globalized world today that is constantly threatened by the spread of disease; however, small public health efforts are just as important in spreading ways to stay healthy to everyone.

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