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Encyclopedia of Public Health: Principles, People, and Programs [2 volumes]
Pagexxi(22 of 823)
Introduction Public health encompasses a broad array of programs, principles, and professional disciplines. The field is a multidisciplinary science, drawing from medicine, biology, sociology, management, psychology, political science, communications, marketing, and engineering. Public health works with traditional medical practice to promote health and well-being and to prevent disease and injury. Although the two systems have similar goals, each uses different strategies to achieve the goals. Traditional West- ern medicine focuses on individuals. Public health focuses on groups of people. Western medicine is reactionary, responding to individual cases of injury or disease. Public health is proactive, identifying at-risk groups and working to stop a problem early, sometimes before the problem starts. Western medicine is treatment oriented. Public health strives for prevention. Although the traditional medical system treats individuals suffering from a health problem, public health intervenes to prevent potential problems. The two systems work together to alleviate human suffering and to promote quality of life. The public health workforce is composed of diverse professionals who work together through many different agencies and organizations. Common functions are to monitor community health, investigate outbreaks of disease, empower com- munities, mobilize partnerships, and care for vulnerable populations. Over the past 100 years, public health has realized significant achievements, increasing life span and quality of life. Activities work at the macro-level with policies, regulations, and programs and at the micro-level of influencing individual health behaviors. Public health extends beyond the day-to-day tasks of disease prevention and health pro- motion. Public health is a frame of mind, a political advocacy, a social movement of advocating for others, especially those who lack the power and resources to secure their own health. Public health professionals work toward a common vision for equi- table health and health care in the United States. The origins of public health trace back to early humans who devised ways to dis- pose of human waste without contaminating drinking water. As bacteriology and immunology emerged as scientific disciplines, so did the multidisciplinary field of public health. The most commonly recognized definition of public health was penned by Charles-Edward Amory Winslow, founder of the Yale School of Public Health. In 1920, Winslow described the newly emerging public health profession as: The science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life, and promoting health and efficiency through or ga nized community efforts for the sanitation of the environment,