What is Public Health?

Public health focuses on preserving the health and happiness of communities, and more specifically, the individuals who constitute the communities. As such, public health remains significant because it fosters an ongoing dialogue between individuals and their surrounding environment. Further exploration of this dynamic dialogue—through first person accounts, stories, and other literature—helps to expand the scope of public health; public health advocates can use these insights and resources to push for policies that provide more comprehensive and affordable healthcare for people across multiple regions. These advocates are able to accomplish this through conducting extensive experiments, compiling their research, and setting aside time to promote public health. Through the advocates’ findings and efforts, a health standard—a paragon of wellness—can be established and worked toward.

This health standard encompasses individuals in all communities, from the vaccines we receive at the doctor’s office to the regulation of clean water. However, public health also remains relevant because there are public health issues that challenge the health standard. Regardless of whether these issues are ongoing, like the Zika outbreak and climate change, or more recent, like the Louisiana flooding and earthquakes in central Italy, the individuals of a community must form in solidarity and act effectively. As medical dispatchers and local hospital staff send reinforcements and resources to help those affected, they are also setting an example for the common citizen. And it is during this time that the common person plays a crucial role: remaining complacent or ignorant stunts the advancement of public health because there would be no discussion or relationship between individuals and their environment. Reading the news and staying knowledgeable about both domestic and global issues are just stepping-stones to engaging in public health activism. We, as individuals, are responsible not only for preserving the health and happiness of our community, but also for caring about the public health of those around us. Public health’s importance ultimately stems from its ability to foster empathy and bring about change among communities.