What is public health?

This page provides an explanation of what public health is. You can also find out more about the history of public health and the meaning of some useful public health terms.

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).

While medicine and nursing are vital for helping and supporting people when they fall ill, work in public health contributes to reducing the causes of ill-health and improving people's health and wellbeing.

It does this through its work in four main 'domains':

There is no better time to join in the effort to promote and protect population health. From growing rates of obesity to bio-terrorism and the advent of new diseases, public health issues appear regularly in the media.

Want to find out more? 

Make a comment or report a problem with this page

Help us improve Health Careers