What is Public Health?

Check out this website: Whatispublichealth.org

Public health can be broken down in many different ways.  Here are two of them:

  1. What is domestic public health?
  2. What is global public health?

A “This American Life” story articulates many ethical, social, and cultural factors involved in a public health intervention in a story about a measles outbreak in San Diego because parents chose not to vaccinate their children.  Compare this with efforts to eradicate polio in India to see some of the similarities and differences (both in terms of how things are done and how we perceive the public health intervention) between domestic and international public health.  Specifically, the “This American Life” story elucidates:

  • Epidemiologists’ jobs in infectious disease outbreaks
  • How public health intertwines into the social and cultural fabric of daily life
  • How evidence-based information is portrayed and brought to the general public
  • Ethical controversies surrounding vaccination and the people who don’t vaccinate: individual rights vs. the right to protect others
  • What quarantine means from the point-of-view of a 1-year-old child
  • How personalistic diseases can be used as a tool that people can use to blame each other
  • How public health officials interact with individual civilians
  • How public health officials and the general public view the meaning of sickness differently

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