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:

  • health protection - action for clean air, water and food, infectious disease control, protection against environmental health hazards, chemical incidents and emergency response
  • improving people's health - action to improve health and wellbeing and to reduce health inequalities (for example by helping people quit smoking or improving their living conditions)
  • health services - ensuring that our health services are the most effective, most efficient and equally accessible

These main functions of public health are supported by:

  • public health intelligence (surveillance, monitoring and assessment)
  • academic public health (promoting evidence, knowledge and research)
  • workforce development

Find out more on the Faculty of Public Health website

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