According to the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO), “Public health refers to all organized measures (whether public or private) to prevent disease, promote health, and prolong life among the population as a whole. Its activities aim to provide conditions in which people can be healthy and focus on entire populations, not on individual patients or diseases. Thus, public health is concerned with the total system and not only the eradication of a particular disease.”
The Public Health Agency of Canada concurs. Their system of public health is responsible for helping to protect their citizens from injury and disease and helping them to stay healthy.
Public health is therefore not only concerned with ill health, it focuses on the quality of life through the promotion healthy behaviour and good health. As it implies, this requires a proactive approach to the surveillance of diseases, health promotion and disease prevention services, and the establishment of relevant policies to manage problems and promote wellness.
Public Health is achieved through a multidisciplinary approach that incorporates education, training, surveillance and research as well as supporting policies, laboratory services, strategic planning and resource mobilization.