Understanding the Context of Public Health’s Conceptual Origin

To understand public health beyond the conceptual definition I will conjecture regarding its origin in Western societies. The origin of public health is likely rooted in 19th century social changes. An example location that I will use as a basis for this discussion is London during the aforementioned period.

In the early 19th century new technology and power shifts in England fueled the phenomenon known as industrialization. Industrialization changed nearly every aspect of social life. Before the scientific and industrial revolution, life in England for most people was typically rural and agrarian. Techniques in farming and production displaced traditional workers and, in a chain of events, led to increased urbanization and disruption of traditional community safety nets.

With these changes the city of London faced several major problems. The first issue was overstraining of infrastructural resources in the city. Public wells and streets were overused and unsafe, and the new economic system could offer no solutions to these issues. Second, increased population density meant that transmissible diseases spread rapidly throughout the city. Lastly, the new industry was dumping pollutants into the air and waters of England. This created hazardous conditions and made many previously-populated areas unlivable.

The work of John Snow, whose findings linked a contaminated well to a cholera outbreak in London, revolutionized understanding of public health globally as a societal necessity. Government-run public health programs expanded as 1) New technology enabled the detection and elimination of health threats; 2) People became convinced that systematic measures to ensure public health and safety were efficient and trustworthy; and 3) The notion that the government had a moral responsibility to protect society’s vulnerable became more widely held.

Public health is a general term that refers to a measure of a population’s wellbeing. Today there are many who dispute the extent to which the government should be involved in ensuring public health. These perspectives continue to shape health policy, which affects the wellbeing of billions of people worldwide.

What is Public Health?

Public health is the effort that people in a society or a well-developed organization make in order to maintain a healthy and safe environment for the communities in which they live in. Public health involves promoting and preventing disease and other attacks, which may be mental or physical, towards a community’s wellbeing. A healthy community can be maintained through the efforts of individuals or organizations, as well as strictly enforced policies. A crucial part of maintaining a healthy community and efficiently addressing public health issues is an active, ongoing communication between the government and its citizens. This way, the citizens can be easily notified of ways to prevent disease or any other attacks and to protect themselves.

Public health is important because it helps manage and protect threats to the wellbeing of a society. Public health is an essential part in improving the quality of life for everyone involved in the community, especially in under-developed countries. Also, another reason why public health is important is because there is a correlation between public health and the economy. When society is healthy and safe from attacks to their wellbeing, the members of the society are more likely to participate in the economy, which would prevent the nation from going into a recession or, in worse cases, depression. Having a healthy society provides for a more active community as well.

An example of an attack to public health would be the Ebola outbreak. In response to the outbreak, organizations like the CDC tried to work as quickly as possible to ensure public safety from the virus. Due to the Ebola outbreak, many South American countries had to halt trade and implement quarantines because of neighboring countries fears of the spread of the virus. The stop of trade in South American countries also negatively affected other countries that typically get their resources from South America. When viruses like Ebola are not spreading like an epidemic, the quality of life for many people increases, and people do not live in fear of getting infected. Also, managing public health well leads to having a sufficient amount of workers as well as a sufficient amount of people engaging in the economy.

Public health plays a key role in keeping the members of a society living a long, healthy life, as well as keeping the society running. Public health organizations help to reduce the amount of infected people and the spread of any diseases.