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Introduction to Public Health

Welcome to an introduction to public health. My name is Susie McCarthy. As a health education specialist at the CDC, I've worked in a variety of areas of public health, including children's health, infectious diseases, chronic diseases, and most recently public health workforce development. Public health is a dynamic and multi-disciplinary field as you'll see from this introductory course. This slide shows the outline for the course. 

We will begin by discussing the purpose of public health and a few key terms. We will then look at some events in history of public health. Next, we'll go through the public health approach and apply it to a public health problem. We will then cover the main functions and essential services of public health to show the broader context and identify different groups who have a stake in public health. 

So what is public health? CEA Winslow was a leading figure in the development of the modern study of public health. Read this definition of public health that he developed almost a century ago and consider key words or phrases in the definition that speak to you or tell you what public health is. You might notice that as a combination of science and art, public health offers many opportunities to be creative. Public health is not only about preventing and treating disease, but it's also about promoting good health. Winslow says this is done through organized efforts. 

From Winslow's definition, you might note that public health gives people and organizations information to help them make choices that inform them and help them improve their health or the health of others. Public health also occurs at different levels. Individual, organizational, and community levels, and even more broadly at the city-state, national, and international levels. So here are two statements about the mission of public health. The Institute of Medicine says that there is a societal interest in ensuring conditions in which people can be healthy, and we'll come back to the concept of assurance later in the course. The World Health Organization, or WHO, 

That people have the right to be healthy and to live in conditions which support their health. So now that we know what public health is, let's review some common key terms. Clinical care is the prevention, treatment, and management of illness, and the preservation of mental and physical well being through health services. This is all also more commonly referred to as medical care or health care. A determinant, also known as a health determinant, is a factor that contributes to the generation of a trait, such as one's ethnicity or genetic makeup. But more broadly, 

However, epidemic usually refers to a larger geographic distribution of illnesses or health related events. It's basically an epidemic occurs when a disease spreads rapidly to many people. You might also hear the term pandemic, which is kind of an epidemic on steroids. It often has a global impact, which means people on multiple continents are affected by it, often crossing borders and going into different countries. A health outcome is the result of a medical condition that directly affects a person's life in terms of its quality or length.

Public health focuses on populations rather than individuals. The next knowledge check is asking, what is a disease occurrence among a population that is in excess of what's expected for a given time and place? Is it pandemic, intervention, epidemic or outbreak, or prevention? And the correct answer is epidemic or outbreak. Now we'll take a look at a few historical highlights of public health through the four lenses of sanitation and environmental health, pandemics, disaster response and preparedness, and prevention through policy. So the first lens will look through encompasses the control of disease and promotion of health through sanitation to ensure a healthy environment. 

Here are three examples from around the globe of how public health has been implemented to contain infectious disease through environmental measures. So around 500 BCE, it's recorded that the ancient Greeks and Romans actively practiced sanitation measures. Fast forward approximately two millennia and we see the work begun long ago in Greece continuing in the United Kingdom through the passage of the Public Health Act of 1848, which established a central board of health and placed .

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