What is public health?
Public health is work to improve the health of communities and populations (or sections of the community) and reduce inequalities in health status. The focus of work activity may be in the social and physical environments in which we live, as well as on programmes to develop more healthy activities.
Key Ways Public Health Workers Achieve Results Are By:
- building healthy public policies
- creating supportive environments
- strengthening community action
- developing personal skills
- reorienting services towards health gain
This approach is from the Ottawa Charter, a global framework used in New Zealand for planning public health strategies. The framework recognises that to improve the health of populations and individuals, there is a need to look wider than just providing health services and address the determinants of health.
For instance, if people are to take responsibility for the health of their families and themselves, they need:
- protection from environmental factors that could lead to health risks
- adequate housing
- a liveable income
- educational opportunities
- a sense of belonging and being valued
- a sense of control over life circumstances.
The focus can also be on population health programmes delivered to individuals. Examples might be immunisation to keep groups of people healthy, screening people to identify early stage disease to enable more effective treatment, and smoking cessation programmes.
It is an exciting field where making a difference is not just a vision but a planned long-term process of action.
For more information contact the public and population unit at:
Telephone number +64 9 470 0000