What Is Public Health Care?

Public health encompasses an expansive spectrum of activities designed to protect and promote good health in society, from protecting people against illness and maintaining wellness to responding quickly in emergencies. It draws upon diverse disciplines such as epidemiology, biostatistics, social sciences and management of health services – and includes surveillance cases, promotion of healthy behaviors and disease outbreak prevention prevention activities in communities including homes workplaces and communities as well as ensuring high-quality healthcare services are always accessible if necessary and responding promptly in cases of emergencies.

Healthcare involves direct interaction between healthcare providers and their patients in clinical settings such as hospitals or private practices, while public health aims to create healthier environments and behaviors across entire age groups, ethnicities or even countries.

Public health began as part of medicine; over time it has developed into an independent and distinct field that takes an all-encompassing view of human wellbeing and investigates its causes rather than simply treating individuals. Combining biology, medicine and quantitative sciences such as epidemiology, statistics and physics – its focus lies on population rather than individuals.

This broadened approach emphasizes that many factors outside medical care can impede our health; often related to living conditions and lifestyle choices. Thus, public health forms an integral component of efforts towards creating equitable and sustainable societies as defined by the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Public health as an area of study is continuously developing and refining its approaches, expanding our understanding of how environment, economic circumstances and personal ability all play a part in maintaining good health. Since the pioneering work of Edwin Chadwick in England who demonstrated that urban poorest areas had worse sanitary conditions he inspired new Public Health Acts to improve water supply, drainage, sanitation, cleansing as well as early epidemiologists mapping clusters of cholera cases.

Today, public health has an increasing awareness that it plays an essential role in improving and protecting individual and population health, in addition to disease surveillance and emergency response. This work forms part of global movements towards health equity whereby everyone can enjoy long lives free from poverty, discrimination and injustice. To achieve this goal, new approaches need to be taken when defining health as a collective action at all levels – for example through global initiatives.

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