Why Public Health Matters

Let’s go deep and flesh out “why public health matters?”. The field of Public Health was borne out of a the need to have better responses to communicable disease. So, let’s use the reality of what we are witnessing on the world stage with the pandemic as a current example.   

What’s a Pandemic? 

First, let’s breakdown the word “pandemic” to understanding its meaning.  The word “pandemic” is Greek in origin and formed from two words: “pan” meaning “all” and “demos” meaning “the people”. A pandemic is “an outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area (such as multiple countries or continents), and typically affects a significant proportion of the population”. Additionally, a pandemic is quite distinct from an epidemic. Although similar, an epidemic stays within a smaller geographic area.  

Through The Ages 

Next, the burning question we ask ourselves is, “how do we get disease outbreaks of this magnitude?” Good question. As people ventured beyond the borders of their own nations, infectious and communicable diseases followed. Expanding populations, trade, colonialism, leisure travel, and other social activities are areas where we can gather data to examine for further research. Disease outbreaks have been chronicled through time and we can trace various pandemics throughout the ages:  

  • Bubonic Plague/ Black Death (outbreaks 1, 2 and 3) 
  • Cholera 
  • Influenza (most notably, Spanish Flu) 
  • HIV/AIDS 
  • SARS 
  • and now COVID19 

During the time when these outbreaks occurred, each was devastating to populations in terms of lives lost. 

Public Health Systems 

Finally, Public Health systems matter a great deal and they work to reduce the spread of disease. Utilizing scientific knowledge by evaluating and analyzing research allow for the production of data and information. Then, information is shared via health education, awareness campaigns, and even develop policy (regulatory and legislative). As a result, people can make informed decisions about their health.  

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