Public Health: “the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life, and promoting health through the organized efforts of society” – Sir Donald Acheson, Public Health in England, 1988. The health of the public has been a national concern for as long as there has been civilization. The reason for this is that when the public are generally unhealthy they cannot work as well and therefore that nation cannot advance socially, economically or intellectually, that is until a better standard of public health is established. Throughout the history of public health in the UK there have been huge changes in the quality of services provided by the government with the intent of improving the overall health of the general population, the earliest of this being the poor laws and work houses which were the most basic system imaginable, caring for the majority of those with no homes and no jobs. Then the Chadwick inquiry showed the effects of poverty and unsanitary conditions on public health, and this drove for the creation of board of health which governed all matters of cleanliness and sanitation, as well as regulating health care in different ways. Later when cholera had a large outbreak in Britain it was discovered by an epidemiologist that in a certain area the highest concentrations of people with the disease were those drinking water from pump coming from the river Thames. The epidemiologist then showed his evidence to the newly established board of health and they made it the responsibility of each constituencies council to ensure the water being to supplied to the public was wholesome and came from an uncontaminated source. The board of health carried on making changes for the better like this for a long time, such as making most health matters the responsibility of the local councils and introducing the sanitary health act enforcing this, ensuring that people would always be safe from the diseases caused by squalor. As well as giving a standard for workplaces to meet to ensure the health and safety of their workers. And so on, the board of health carried on standardising care and quality of life for the masses and even had a re-review of all of their policies and acts to ensure they were up to date enough. In 1942 the Beveridge report outlined the five main things that needed to be overcome to have a healthy happy society and that it needed the support of the people if it were to ever work. This founded the basis of what would become the welfare state in the post war reform which essentially promised to care for those in need properly with tax money. And later came the NHS which was the result of years of labour campaigning and finally being put in place by the health minister at the time, providing a much needed standardised health service. Current public health strategies.
Having a national health service has been a driving success factor for the UK but it doesn’t just heal the sick, a huge part of what it means to care for the health of the nation is to know the health needs of the nation as a whole which is incredibly important for the control of diseases. The main way in which the health services gather this information is through GP’s surgeries as they are the point of contact with the majority of the population. Periodically data with be gathered from care establishments about service users by different governing bodies, like Primary Care Trusts (PCT), The World Health Organisation (WHO), the National Statistics Office (NSO), Epidemiologists, The Health Protection Agency (HPA) so that they can form papers and conclusions about the needs of the public as a whole and how best to reduce the risk of certain health concerns, deal with an existing public health concern, as well as whether there is a need to screen for a new or existing diseases in certain areas, a whole country or potentially internationally. In times of epidemics the governing bodies mentioned above tend to work even closer together, sharing information as necessary, the information they collate often is presented as soon as possible to governments necessary in order to form to create a sufficient program to confront the issue preventatively or proactively as needed. Public health initiatives and programs are based on data collected in the aforementioned manner and then the most effective strategy is decided by the faculty of public health in accordance with the WHO as to whether it meets the following criteria: If the strategy is population based
Ensures health and disease protection to a wide community
Accounts for all determinates of health not just disease
Makes use of all connected health services and organisations The most common objectives of public health strategy are
Early disease screening
Communicable disease control
Care service target setting and evaluation; local, national and, international.
An example of the process is the West African Ebola crisis. Doctors in the region spread the reports on the disease spreading to their own countries governments, which in turn reported the news to international charities and the World Health organisation which in turn with have assigned volunteer medical staff and epidemiologists respectively. After the situation is assessed the most useful course of action is taken first primarily to stop the spread across the countries or out of the continent and reduce the number of victims, through relocation, preventative protection clothing and aseptic techniques. Then after time pharmaceutical companies will begin to develop a drug to help the cause. Eventually the situation gains public attention and funding is raised and distributed to the charities and organisations that