What is public health?

Public health is about helping people to stay healthy and protecting them from threats to their health.

Sometimes public health activities involve helping individuals, at other times they involve dealing with wider factors that have an impact on the health of many people (for example an age-group, an ethnic group, a locality, or a country).

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Public health contributes to reducing the causes of ill-health and improving people's health and wellbeing through:

  • protecting people's health (for example from environmental or biological threats, such as food poisoning or radiation)
  • improving people's health (for example by helping people quit smoking or improving their living conditions)
  • ensuring that our health services are the most effective, most efficient and equally accessible
  • academic public health which builds the evidence on which all public health activity is based
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