Public health plays an important role in disease prevention efforts

06Jan 2020
The Guardian
Public health plays an important role in disease prevention efforts

Public health plays an important role in disease prevention efforts in both the developing world and in developed countries through local health systems and non-governmental organisations.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is the international agency that coordinates and acts on global public health issues. Most countries have their own governmental public health agency, often called the ministry of health, with responsibility for domestic health issues.

Public health has been defined as  the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting human health through organised efforts and informed choices of society, organisations, public and private, communities and individuals .  Analysing the health of a population and the threats it faces is the basis for public health.  The public can be as small as a handful of people or as large as a village or an entire city; in the case of a pandemic it may encompass several continents. The concept of health takes into account physical, psychological and social well-being. As such, according to the World Health Organisation, it is not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. 

Public health aims to improve the quality of life through prevention and treatment of disease, including mental health. Access to health care and public health initiatives are difficult challenges in developing countries. Public health infrastructures are still forming in those countries.

The focus of a public health intervention is to prevent and mitigate diseases, injuries and other health conditions through surveillance of cases and the promotion of healthy behaviors, communities and environments. Many diseases are preventable through simple, nonmedical methods. For example, research has shown that the simple act of handwashing with soap can prevent the spread of many contagious diseases.

In the same vein, regional and district medical officers in the country have been urged to supervise public health in their areas by ensuring that they mobilise efforts and support the prevention of communicable and non-communicable diseases in the communities.

The director of Prevention Services at the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, elderly and Children, Dr Leonard Subi made the call last year  here when speaking during the medical officers meeting.

The medical officers are meeting for a three-day working session to discuss the implementation of the resolutions made by the Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa at the first general conference in 2018.

“This is a very important meeting for medical officers, because you are the major supervisors of health activities at community level. So you have a role to play to ensure that our communities are safe from diseases,” he said.

According to him, the meeting will among other things discuss issues on environmental health, climate change and community health at large. The participants will also share the performance of regional and district health and progress of project activities.

“It’s my hope that, you will use this meeting to learn and share experience on how to improve services in your communities…use this platform also to come up with recommendations to advise the government in social welfare,” Dr Subi added.He further added that the officials have a role of strengthening surveillance in border areas to protect outbreaks from outside the country. The meeting theme was “Quality health services, environment and sanitation; essential catalyst for sustainable economy.”

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