Public health: “the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life, and promoting health through the organised efforts of society” (1998 Public health in England report – Sir Donald Acheson)
Public health is related to the improvement of our population’s health, as a pose to simply treating individual patient’s illnesses and diseases. It is recognised as a specialist field of practice from the appointment of the first initial Medical Officers of Health. Public health professionals work alongside other professionals in order to monitor the communities health status, identify needs, develop programs to help prevent risk of disease as well as early screening of diseases, create policies to promote good health, evaluate health care provision (and plan where necessary), manage and implement changes and control transmittable disease.
Identifying the health needs of the population:
This refers to recognising trends and patterns, allowing the probable effects for services to be established and identified. If a pattern within the community is picked up on, provisions can be put in place in order to meet these new demands. If for example, in relation to liver failure, health professionals can evaluate any likely increase in support for alcohol abuse services to help service users decrease their alcohol consumption.
Monitoring the health status and needs of the community:
Any changes within the health of the population are monitored and tracked in order to alert people of the potential problems that may occur. An example of this is if the statistic for death from smoking related illness is tracked, then people can be made aware of the rise in deaths caused by smoking and appropriate changes can be made.
Developing programmes to reduce risk and screen for early disease:
Programs are introduced to identify people being at risk of developing a condition in the attempt to reduce the levels of ill health. Those individuals identified are then provided opportunity to engage in preventative program to prevent this potential risk from developing. An example of this would be identifying that an individual is a risk of developing lung cancer due to both smoking habits as well as a family history and putting measures in place to help them quit smoking and alter their lifestyle to eliminate environmental risk factors.
Controlling communicable disease:
Through the development and implementation of more