Public health is defined as the art and science of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through the organized efforts of society (Acheson, 1988, WHO). Public health concerns vary with the current status of countries worldwide be it developed, developing and under developed countries. The misunderstanding of public health management is merely for less fortunate population is no more being raised.
It is important to realize that public health with its six major components play a vital role in managing any society’s health affairs. Medical field is not only about treating patients and cure diseases, what more important is to search for its underlying cause and how to prevent its spread and progression. The complexity of diseases with the large scale of population requires integration between the components of public health with health management as its head.
To see the community as a whole, engaging it with their economic and education status, recognizing the common diseases and the affected generation, whether the infectious or the non-infectious takes the upper hand and finally managing the predicament with optimum resources and preventing it from spread and recurrence are those responsibilities of the health management sector. In short, it is crucial to distinguish what are the major issues dominating a society. For instance, the concerns of a community in a developed country are; non communicable chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, also sedentary lifestyle with its consequences; smoking, vaping, media addiction, pornography and recent increasing number of mental illness cases being noticed.
In contradiction with under developed and developing countries, the spread of infectious diseases, poor sanitation, poverty, low education level and difficult access to healthcare facilities are still the main dilemma. Epidemiology, a field that focuses on managing the battle against either communicable diseases or non-communicable disease worldwide requires the balancing art of continuous effort of educating the people regarding the disease and at the same time, a dynamic research and innovation to cure and control followed with effective implementation of actions to reduce the burden of disease long term. It is undeniable that the public awareness has increased in the recent years enabling numbers of contagious disease being reduced and eliminated. It also apply to non-communicable disease.
The famous quote in family health ‘from womb to tomb’ indicates that everyone in the family at every stage of life is a value though pregnant women and younger children are of a bigger interest due to their vulnerability. The scope of family health is to recognize and tackle any health issue entangling the whole part of a family such as unhealthy eating lifestyle and domestic violence or in a particular age group like e-cigarettes addiction in adolescence and mental depression in elderly for examples. It is vital to understand that different age group requires different approach in managing their health matters as it is related to their physiological and psychological specificity.
Noticing that there are increasing number of health affairs related to one’s occupation, an emerging sector in public health known as occupational health is now taking a role to manage those profession-related health risks. Occupations with exposure to radiation, chemicals and pollution deemed to be meticulously studied in order to prevent or minimize the unwanted adverse effects. Nature of certain workplace with high possibilities causing of trauma and external injuries to the workers involved such as construction site, oil plant and deep sea need to be well equipped with safety measures. Whereas people involved should be well trained to face emergency situations and covered with life insurance. These are few examples of occupational health obligations.
Another important component of public health emphasizing its duty to take in charge of the non-human factors of the community well-being is environmental health sector. Taking the world holistically, other elements affecting a particular population’s health need to be involved as well. The ecology instability, hazardous pollution, vast usage of dangerous chemicals without proper guidelines and restrictions are among the major interests in environmental health.
All in all, these components of public health are not functioning on its own constructive plan, but rather integrates each other to solve the current emerging issues as well as preventing other health complications in order to provide the whole population a better world to live. Prevention is better than cure, that is public health.
Dr. Zetty Sofia Binti Mohd Zanib
Activist I-Medik Negeri Sembilan
Pegawai Perubatan KK Pasir Panjang