Apr 6, 2009

It's a bird....it's a plane....it's....

NOT Superman, but PUBLIC HEALTH to the rescue!

What is public health? Public health has an amorphously large definition. I admittedly used to think that public health was the field filled with people who wanted to go into medicine and help people, but couldn't stand basic science and the gore of cutting up bodies, plus the environmentalists, ethicists, and epidemiologists. For a while, the definition that public health was population based medicine, while medicine in the conventional sense was individual based seem to work. But, that doesn't quite cover all of the bases of public health either.

Dr. Howard Koh, President Obama's nominee for Assistant Secretary for Health in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has a wonderful and all encapsulating definition of public health that goes kind of like this (I apologize that this is not an exact quote!), "When you wake-up in the morning and take in a breath of clean air, that's public health. When you brush your teeth and the water coming out of the faucet is fluoridated, that's public health. When you eat breakfast and you pass up the donuts for a healthier alternative, that's public health. When you drive to work and you put on your seatbelt, that's public health. Better yet, you ride your bike to work, that's public health. When you get into an accident and an ambulance arrives and takes you to the nearest hospital in a timely manner, that's public health. When you receive great care at the hospital, that's public health....."

The scenarios continue till you realize that public health is something that is absolutely necessary and works hard in the background of our everyday lives. It's only missed when public health doesn't work.

The WHO definition of public health (since 1946) is: "a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being." It's hard to narrow down or make the definition of public health more specific because public health is inherently multi-disciplinary. It includes various different fields including: government, communities, the health care delivery system, the media, academia, employers and business, and at the center of the diagram should be the individual. Because public health is everywhere and touches so many life sectors, shouldn't it make sense that everyone and anyone be involved in public health? Instead of babbling on and attempt to define public health, watch this video made by Generation Public Health in honor of the American Public Health Association's National Public Health Week!

Thanks Ninon!

Some other inspiring infographic videos that may be of interest to you that touch on related topics are:

The Girl Effect

Did You Know?

1 comment:

Eva said...

Check out this LA Times piece on the personal responsibility of healthy living. Click here to read!