What is Public Health?

Public health is simply the health of a large group of people. This health is usually measured by a central agency and the population can be of a city, state, or country. However, a growing field of importance is international public health. This is one of the most significant areas of public health because it involves nations on a wide spectrum of healthcare efficiency. There are nations that worry about degenerative diseases, various cancers, and extending the life expectancy past eighty. On the other hand, there are nations struggling to vaccinate their children and are still battling infectious diseases that have been eliminated just across the ocean decades ago. Consequently, having an agency that monitors, reports, and recommends certain programs to improve international public health is a high priority in our globalizing economy. The World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control regularly make comprehensive analyses of international health and possible epidemics.

While important, one central agency does not have to be responsible to address public health. There are ample private enterprises, such as the Gates Foundation, that seek to improve the quality of life of people in disadvantaged areas. Thus, these organizations are also involved in the larger goal of improving public health on a social level. Finally, it is worth noting that although public health is the overall health of a population, individuals make up this population and, thus, are directly affected by public health policies (or lack of). Individuals cannot isolate their own health and quality of life from the public health of the area they are living because the policies implemented to improve public health will directly improve their own standard of living. On the other hand, lack of strong and effective policy to improve public health would lower the standard of living of all individuals within that population. In conclusion, public health is significant because it interconnects the health of all humans in our increasingly connected world.

Mini Presentations on Public Health Organizations

For the organization you’ve been assigned, consider the following questions:

  • How does this organization define public health?
  • What does this organization think is important about public health?
  • How does this organization address public health issues?

For your group presentations (5–7 minutes each), you will quickly introduce us to your organization and answer the questions above. Ideally, you will also show us how you formulated your answers. For instance, is there somewhere on the organization’s website that defines public health, clues you in on why the organization thinks public health is important, and/or details the organization’s plans for tackling public health issues?

What is Public Health?

For your primer (at least 300 words), answer the following questions: What is public health? Why is it important?

A primer is a short book introducing the basic principles of a particular subject. Usually, we use the word “primer” to refer to an elementary book that teaches children how to read. Given that, treat this primer assignment as an opportunity for you to teach me your definition of public health and your understanding of its significance. While I can’t check to make sure that you didn’t do any research before writing this assignment, I highly encourage you to curb that research impulse and take the time to think about what you already know. How do you define public health? What argument would you make about its significance? What examples of public health (from your own experience, from what you’ve learned from the news, etc.) illustrate your definition and your claim for its importance?

Bring a printed copy of your primer to class on Thursday. We’ll discuss all of your definitions then. Happy writing!