Community Health Services, Inc.

What is Public Health?

Public Health is the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life, and promoting health. (CEA Winslow, 1940)

Healthy people in healthy communities. (Public Health in America, 1994)

The most current and useful description of "public health" is defined in the 1988 Institute of Medicine publication entitled The Future of Public Health. This publication defines the mission of public health as "fulfilling society's interest in assuring conditions in which people can be healthy. Public Health's aim is to generate organized community efforts to address the public interest in health by applying scientific and technical knowledge to prevent disease and promote health.

The three core functions of public health are:
  • Assessment: Regular and systematic collection of information on the health of the community.
  • Policy Development: Work for rules/laws/policies that serve the health interests of the whole community.
  • Assurance: Assure that the services necessary to achieve health goals are available to the whole population, either by encouraging other partners to provide them, or if necessary, by providing services directly.