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What is Public Health

We have produced a one-page guide to public health to help explain our role 

Public health is a nationally recognised profession based on high standards of training and practice. The Faculty of Public Health (the professional body) defines public health as: 

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“the science and art of promoting and protecting health and wellbeing, preventing ill-health and prolonging life through the organised efforts of society.”

The public health approach:

  • is population based; 
  • emphasises collective responsibility for health, its protection and disease prevention;
  • recognises the key role of the state. Is linked to a concern for the underlying socio-economic and wider determinants of health, as well as disease;
  • and emphasises partnerships with all those who contribute to the health of the population.

Public Health practice focuses on three key domains which aim to protect and improve the health and wellbeing of the population. It is focussed on understanding and responding to the needs of different population groups. This means it aims to tackle the injustice of inequalities. It also ensure greater fairness in the quantity and quality of people’s lives.

The three key domains and some of the main action areas are listed below:

  • Health improvement including wider determinants of health.
    This includes:
    • tackling inequalities
    • education
    • housing
    • employment
    • lifestyles
    • family/community
    • surveillance and monitoring of specific diseases and risk factors. For example, reducing harm from alcohol and drugs
  • Improving services.
    This includes:
    • clinical effectiveness
    • efficiency
    • service planning
    • audit and evaluation
    • clinical governance, and
    • equity
  • Health protection.
    This includes:
    • infectious diseases
    • chemicals and poisons
    • radiation
    • emergency response and
    • environmental health hazards

The Public Health Legacy Document is an essential recording of collective knowledge and learning. This has developed over the last eight years in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. It was developed to support transition of the local public health team from the NHS to local authorities. It is being used as a platform for continued progress in improving health and wellbeing.