Public Health as a profession

“Health Care matters to some of us some of the time but public health is vital to all of us all the time”.
– (C. Everett Koop, Association of Schools of Public Health, 2008)

What is Public health?

  • Public Health is defined as “the art and science of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through the organized efforts of Society” (Acheson E.D, 1988).

  • While a doctor(practicing clinical medicine) treats individuals after they fall sick or injured, a public health practitioner protects and prevent people from getting sick or injured,

  • It promotes and protects the health of population as a whole (locally, nationally and globally).

  • Its activities aim to provide conditions in which people can be healthy and focus is on entire population

  • Public health saves lives, saves money  by preventing disease and promoting health

  • Public Health is multi disciplinary. It draws its strength from multiple disciplines such as epidemiology and biostatistics, environmental health, social and behavioural sciences, occupational safety and health, health economics, health policy, health service administration, program management etc.


What essentially are the functions of Public Health? (Adapted from CDC, WHO)

  1. Monitor health status to identify and solve community health problems

  2. Diagnose and investigate health problems and health hazards in the community

  3. Inform, educate, and empower people about health issues

  4. Mobilize community partnership and action to identify and solve health problems

  5. Develop policies and plans that support individual and community efforts

  6. Enforce laws and regulations that protect health and ensure safety

  7. Link people to needed personal health services and assure provision of health care when otherwise unavailable

  8. Assure competent public and personal health care workforce

  9. Evaluate effectiveness, accessibility, and quality of personal and population based health services

  10. Research for new insights and innovative solutions to health problems.


What are the ten great achievements of Public Health in the 20th century?(adapted from CDC and WHO)

  • Vaccination

  • Control of infectious diseases

  • Safe drinking water

  • Healthier mothers and babies

  • Access to Family planning methods

  • Safer and healthier foods

  • Safer work places

  • Decline in deaths from coronary heart diseases and stroke

  • Recognition of tobacco use as a health hazard

  • Motor Vehicle safety


Why choose Public Health as a career.

  • Public health is an exciting multidisciplinary field and literally there is something for every one

  • Public health is emerging, dynamic and multi-disciplinary with fast growth potential and lot of innovations.

  • Public Health Professionals are involved in the effort to improve the life and health of people all around the world and not just a single individual – something one should be proud of.

  • You Will have the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives

  • Schools of Public Health provide various courses and career options

  • A career in public health opens the door to diverse and challenging opportunity in a variety of sectors like Government, private, corporate, industry and international agencies

  • You can be academician, epidemiologist, researcher, public health service provider or a Project/program manager etc.

  • Wide scope for research

  • Opportunity Inter-professional and international collaboration.

  • Provides leadership  opportunity in health sector

  • The country needs competent public health Professionals to tackle the existing, emerging and re-emerging health problems of 21st century.