collaborative post | The spread of the coronavirus brought to global public attention the intrinsic link shared between a person’s health and the conditions of their surroundings. It has emphasized the need for public health initiatives centered around disease prevention, control, and promoting healthy lifestyles.

Photo by Alexandr Podvalny on Unsplash

The pandemic also illustrated an existing problem within the healthcare system, where hospitals and conventional healthcare resources which try to cure diseases are beyond their capacity. There is a need for healthcare solutions that aim at reducing the incidents of sickness rather than treating an ailment after it has arisen.

It is clear that policies aiming at preventing sickness and making communities more resilient to potentially infectious diseases are the need of the hour, and here public health can play a vital role. Before discussing its significance in improving the overall healthcare system, it is first crucial that we have a full appreciation of what the term means.

What Is Public Health?

Public health refers to the science of using medical interventions to improve the health of individuals and their communities. Unlike conventional medicine, the focus is prevention and mitigation rather than curing diseases after their onset. Holistic public health initiatives require the involvement of the government, healthcare professionals, public health bodies, and community stakeholders.

Becoming a public health official requires individuals to have at least a graduate-level qualification within the field. Attaining this has become easier than ever, with potential students having the opportunity to get quality education from the comforts of their homes through an online MPH program.

People with training in public health will be better at identifying existing issues within the community that might be adversely contributing to health outcomes, creating solutions to these problems, and working alongside members from other sectors of healthcare to apply these proposed solutions.

What Does Public Health Include

Public health has the rather broad task of promoting healthier outcomes among individuals and their communities and includes a variety of methods of achieving this aspiration.

Public health includes policies aimed at preventing the outbreak of diseases and controlling their spread, ones that try to promote healthier lifestyle choices within communities, ones that aim at dealing with the environmental factors associated with a person’s health, and ones that try to promote equity in health outcomes irrespective of income, education level, etc.

All of these initiatives are crucial to the smooth operation of a functional healthcare system. To understand the importance of public health, we must examine its four substantial impacts on societal health.

Public Health And Pandemics

The spread of the coronavirus was a global event that appeared to have no end in sight when it first occurred. Thanks to the efforts of scientists, public health officials, and community stakeholders, this potentially existential threat has been dealt with in under five years.

A concerted effort towards creating a vaccine for the virus meant that a process that requires fifteen years to complete took under three years.

Thanks to policies of compulsory mask-wearing and isolation of symptomatic individuals from public spaces, governments controlled the spread within communities, preventing society from being victim to the worst potential outcomes of the disease.

Yet, had governments listened to the early warnings of public health officials like epidemiologists, the coronavirus could have been contained and prevented from becoming a global phenomenon.

These officials had warned of the potential of a novel infectious disease and warned that healthcare systems, as they currently stood, were ill-equipped to deal with such an outbreak.

Public health can play a crucial role in the future in minimizing the disease outbreak through immunization campaigns, early detection methods, and policies that try to control the spread of infection.

Public Health and Healthy Lifestyles

Engendering healthy lifestyle choices within the community increases the immunity of its members to sickness, helps prevent the outbreak of diseases, and creates a greater level of appreciation and awareness for conditions such as bad mental health.

Policies promoting healthy lifestyles include information campaigns emphasizing the importance of regular physical activity, a nutritious diet, and adequate sleep.

It also requires awareness campaigns that tackle taboo topics within health and well-being discussions, including discussions on mental health and sexual health education.

These policies help individuals lead lives that make them less prone to sickness and can make them aware of underlying mental health conditions that may impact their well-being.

Outside the dissemination of information and awareness, public health policies can promote healthy lifestyles by advocating for changes to the environment of particular communities. It can include advocacy for more recreational spaces, better air quality, more access to public transport, and affordable mental health care.

Public Health And Disparity

It is an unfortunate reality that various factors like race, economic class, sex, and education levels all have an impact on the level of access to healthcare services and resources. While access to the highest quality of healthcare and the ability to lead a healthy life are fundamental rights inherent to all humans, in practice, access to the best healthcare is only for those with wealth, status, and power.

Public health policies can play a vital role in promoting greater degrees of health equity. It can help identify existing disparities within the healthcare system that may advantage one population group over another. It can also illuminate how underlying social factors, like income level, sex, and race, impact access to healthcare services and outcomes.

After identifying the issues undermining health equity, policies of targeted intervention can be implemented to deal with this issue. Examples include providing more healthcare coverage and access within marginalized areas and dealing with other factors, such as environmental pollution, which lead to more adverse health outcomes in particular communities.

Public Health And The Healthcare System

Conventional healthcare resources, like hospitals, physicians, consultants, and nurses, are being overworked. The global pandemic, and other factors, including the aging of the baby-boomer generation, which is living longer than its predecessors, means there is a real risk that this shortage problem will only get more severe.

In such a context, conventional healthcare resources need the assistance of policies for disease outbreak prevention and the promotion of healthy lifestyles.

These initiatives can reduce the incidents of sickness, especially amongst younger demographics, and can help manage the load of conventional healthcare resources.

Compared to improving the capacity of hospitals and hiring more physicians and consultants, these public health initiatives represent much more affordable alternatives that can yield even more potent results.


For many countries, the coronavirus represented a moment when their healthcare resources had reached their limit. Hospitals were full, and doctors and nurses had to make traumatic decisions over who to treat and who was a lost cause.

Now that we are living in a post-pandemic world, we must take steps to prevent such a near-apocalyptic event from happening again.

It includes a recognition that alongside having a greater capacity to cure illness, there must be a concentrated effort to prevent disease and sickness from arising in the first place, which has propelled public health from being ancillary in discussions to being a point of primary concern.

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