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  What is Public Health?

The Institute of Medicine defines public health as “the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health and efficiency through organized community effort.” The three major functions of public health are:

Assessment: Assessment and monitoring of the health of communities and at-risk populations in order to identify health problems and priorities.

Policy development: Formulating public policies in collaboration with community and government leaders that are designed to solve local and national health problems and priorities.

Assurance: Assuring that all populations have access to appropriate and cost-effective care, including health promotion and disease prevention services, and evaluation of the effectiveness of that care.


Examples of public health at work in your community include:

  • Immunizations and health screenings                                                                       
  • Clean water and air monitoring                                                                                               
  • Chronic disease prevention education                                                                                     
  • Anti-tobacco efforts
  • Prenatal care programs


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