What are the major disciplines in public health programs

Major Disciplines in Public Health

In public health, the focus is on health promotion and disease/injury prevention, in contrast to the medical model of care, which focuses more heavily on diagnosing and treating illnesses and conditions after they occur. Public health professionals analyze and develop programmes that protect the health of individuals, families and communities a career in public health opens the door to diverse opportunities in a variety of sectors such as federal, private and non- governmental organizations. Public health experts play a key role in emergency preparedness and response. This may be why public health has become such a growing field in recent years.

Major Public Health Disciplines

The following are some of the major public health disciplines

· Community health: a field of public health is a discipline which concerns itself with the study and improvement of the health characteristics of biological communities. While the term community can be broadly defined, community health tends to focus on geographical areas rather than people with shared characteristics.

The health characteristics of a community are often examined using geographic information system (GIS) software and public health datasets.

Community health may be studied within three broad categories: -

- Primary healthcare which refers to interventions that focuses on the individual or family such as hand-washing, immunization, circumcision.

- Secondary healthcare refers to those activities which focus on the environment such as draining puddles of water near the house, clearing bushes and spraying insecticides to control vectors like mosquitoes and other arthropods.

- Tertiary healthcare on the other hand refers to those interventions that take place in a hospital setting such as intravenous rehydration or surgery.

The success of community health programmes relies upon the transfer of information from health professionals to the general public using one-to-one or one to many communication (mass communication).

● Nutrition: is the science of food, the nutrients and other substances therein, their action, interaction and balance in relation to health and disease. Nutrition professionals in public health are either Public Health Dieticians or Public Health Nutritionists. All public health nutrition professionals are registered dieticians (RD) who apply a nutrition lens to all aspects of health promotion and health protection. These specialized, regulated professionals are involved in a variety of essential activities, including:

· Assessing the nutrition-related needs of the community

· Participating in policy development

· Developing and managing nutrition programs

· Collaborating with and providing nutrition consultation to public health staff and community partners

· Advocating for accessibility to healthy, affordable, safe foods and for other nutrition-related issues

· Conducting research and evaluation to further nutrition knowledge and practice

· Building community capacity

● Reproductive Health: is a state of complete physical, mental and social being not only the absence of disease or infirmity, in all matters relating to reproductive system and to its functions and processes.

● Environmental Health The basic approach to environmental control is first to identify specific biologic, chemical, social and physical factors that represent hazards to health or well-being and to modify the environment in a manner that protects people from harmful exposures. The principal components of environmental health are water sanitation, waste disposal, etc

● Health Promotion and Health Education Health promotion is defined as the process of enabling people to increase control over and improve their health. This process is based on the understanding that social conditions and personal actions both determine health. Hence, health promotion activities move beyond disease prevention and health education to address social change, institutional change and community change in addition to changes in personal behaviours.

Health education is defined as a combination of learning experiences designed to facilitate voluntary actions conducive to health. It is an essential part of health promotion.

● Epidemiology is the study of frequency, distribution, and determinants of diseases and other related states or events in specified populations. The application of this study to the promotion of health and to the prevention and control of health problems is evident. Epidemiologists monitor the occurrence of disease and other health-related characteristics in human populations. They work with other public health professionals and the community to apply epidemiological findings to the control of disease and in planning, priority setting, and policy development, evaluation of interventions and assessment of community concerns.

● Health Economics is concerned with the alternative uses of resources in the health services sector and with the efficient utilization of economic resources such as manpower, material and financial resources.

● Bio-statistics is the application of statistics to biological problems; application of statistics especially to medical problems, but its real meaning is broader. Bio-statistics is one of the fundamental specializations in the science and practice of public health, relating statistical information to concrete health issues -- especially those affecting human populations. The information provided by bio-statisticians is central to the design of interventions and the development of public health policy and priorities.

● Health Service Management is getting people to work harmoniously together and to make efficient use of resources in order to achieve objectives.

●Ecology: is the study of relationship between living organisms and their environment. It is the science, which deals with the inter-relationships between the various organisms living in an area and their relationship with the physical environment. Human ecology means the study of human groups as influenced by environmental factors, including social and behavioural factors.

● Research is a conscious action to acquire deeper knowledge or new facts about scientific or technical subjects. It is a systematic investigation towards increasing knowledge. It aims at the discovery and interpretation of facts, revision of accepted theories, or laws in the light of new facts or practical application of such new theories or laws.

● Demography is the study of population, especially with reference to size and density, fertility, mortality, growth, age distribution, migration, and the interaction of all those with social and economic conditions.

Core activities in public health

1. Preventing epidemics.

2. Protecting the environment, work place, food and water.

3. Promoting healthy behavior.

4. Monitoring the health status of the population.

5. Mobilizing community action.

6. Responding to disasters.

7. Assuring the quality, accessibility, and accountability of medical care.

8. Reaching to develop new insights and innovative solutions and

9. Leading the development of sound health policy and planning.

Community Health, Clinical Medicine and Public Health

Community Health and Public Health Community health refers to the health status of a defined group of people and the actions and conditions both private and public (governmental) to promote, protect and preserve their health. Whereas Public health refers to the health status of a defined group of people and the governmental actions and conditions to promote, protect and preserve their health.

Clinical Medicine and Public Health

Clinical medicine is concerned with diagnosing and treating diseases in individual patients. It has evolved from primarily a medical and nursing service to involve a highly complex team of professionals. The overall objective of both public health and clinical medicine is better health for individual and for society. Both of them are vital and interdependent to improve individual and public health. Ready access to high quality health care services is a right of the population and a requirement of good public health. This requires the availability of high quality providers of clinical and preventive care.

Public health involves both direct and indirect approaches. Direct measures in public health include immunization of children, modern birth control, hypertension, and diabetes case findings. Indirect methods used in public health protect the individual by community –wide means, such as raising standards of environmental safety, assurance of a safe water supply, sewage disposal, and improved nutrition. In public health practice, both the direct and indirect approaches are relevant.

Public Health is an organized community effort aimed at the prevention of disease and promotion of health. It links many disciplines. Many core areas form specialization in Public Health.

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