What is Public Health?


Hello CMH 365 students and Professors! 

As one of the first to post a comment on our class website, I thought it would be beneficial to share a link with everyone in the class regarding the overall big question about What is Public Health? and also Why is it Important that we be concerned about Public Health and the Social Welfare of others?  As many of you recall on our first day of class, Dr. Barnidge and Prof. Rozier discussed their personal experience with trying to explain to others why they had chosen to study Public Health and Social Justice, and how this subject influences the world as we know it today. 

The following link is a Youtube video I stumbled upon that does an excellent job of introducing the question What is Public Health?  The video was made by a group of graduate students at the Boston University, School for Public Health, and although it is targeted to educate high school students, I found that its content was relevant to our discussion in class.  In general pay close attention to the career options which many of the students plan on pursuing after receiving their degree in Public Health.  I, personally, was surprised to hear how so few of the students had plans in pursuing a career as a physician–as it is the common mistake to automatically lump Public Health into the same category as the Health Care system.  In fact, as we have discussed in class, the students’ future career plans are a great testimony to diversity of job opportunities available for anyone who is considering studying Public Health and Social Justice as a career. 

But that is enough for right now…let’s watch the video 🙂

What most strikes me about this video is the overall lack of understanding for What is Public Health.

Why do you think the majority of people don’t have a good working definition of what it means to promote Public Health?

Would you suspect the same lack of response if the question were What is Social Justice and how is it important to Public Health?

Where is one person, or say a community of people to start to make a difference in the lives of those suffereing from injustice and disequities?


“Public health practice embraces all those actions that are directed to the assessment of health and disease problems in the population; the formulation of policies dealing with such problems; and the assurance of environmental, behavioral, and medical services designed to accelerate favorable health trends and reduce the unfavorable.”

Source:  Afifi, Abdelmonem A. & Breslow, Lester (1994), The maturing paradigm of public health. In: Annual Review of Public Health, Vol. 15, 223-235, here: 232


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