According to WHO definition Public health refers to all organized measures (whether public or private) to prevent disease, promote health, and prolong life among the population as a whole. Its" activities aim to provide conditions in which people can be healthy and focus on entire populations, not on individual patients or diseases", Thus, public health is concerned with the total system and not only the eradication of a particular disease. The term global public health recognizes that, as a result of globalization, forces that affect public health can and do come from outside state boundaries and that responding to public health issues now requires attention to cross-border health risks, including access to dangerous products and environmental change.
Who is public health worker?
“a person educated in public health or a related discipline employed to improve health through a population focus” - Institute of Medicine, 2003. Another example of definition “…those responsible for providing the essential services of public health regardless of the organization in which they work” - DHHS 1994
The need for PH professionals
Most of the health strategies in developed countries shows major rule of Public health professionals in order to accomplish the main strategic objectives. According to the Association of the Schools of Public Health (ASPH) in USA, the public health field currently is experiencing a shortage in workers, while the U.S. population continues to grow, This combination is expected to result in a shortage of nearly 250,000 professionals—approximately one-third of the workforce needed to identify, treat, and prevent new and emerging public health threats. Also according to Hunter, D.J., Lapp, I., Frenk, J. Education in public health: expanding the frontiers, American journal of Preventive medicine 2014, its estimated that approximately 80% of local health department directors in the USA do not have graduate degree in Public health.
The three main public health functions are:
- The assessment and monitoring of the health of communities and populations at risk to identify health problems and priorities.
- The formulation of public policies designed to solve identified local and national health problems and priorities.
- To assure that all populations have access to appropriate and cost-effective care, including health promotion and disease prevention services.
The main duties of the public health profession can be summarized in the following points: (14 points)
- Identify and analyze current and expected health problems in the community and analyze them according to geographical, demographic, social and economic data, and suggest the appropriate solutions.
- Lead or take a major role in the investigations and management of a significant incidence including but not limited to a communicable disease outbreak , non- infectious disease incidence.
- Develop, implement and evaluate health protection programs, applying knowledge of common environmental hazards including but not limited to water and sewage treatment and quality control of water, soil, air and food.
- Study of the causes of health problems.
- Identify health needs and priorities in the community.
- Planning health care programs that include promotion of preventive health, treatment and rehabilitation and management.
- Activate the work of the health team and the participation of members of the community and coordination between the different sectors involved in the planning, organization and evaluation of health programs.
- Conduct researches and studies of health-related problems.
- Participate in the training of workers in the health sector.
- Develop health education programs that accommodate with the needs of community and ensure its participation.
- Evaluate and develop health services to increase their effectiveness.
- Contribute to the formulation of healthy public policy or legislation at local or national level.
- Lead or make a significant contribution to a major public health campaign demonstrating an understanding of appropriate theory and applications of social marketing and mass communications.
- Implement and evaluate a health promotion intervention including assessment of outcome methods and costs, identifying strength and limitations of intervention, communicating findings and making recommendations.