What Is Public Health?

Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a condition “of full physical, emotional and social well being and not simply the absence of illness and infirmity.” Numerous definitions have been employed over the years for diverse purposes. It has sometimes been viewed to be equivalent to being in good health, although this is not an accurate definition. The word “well” has a very different meaning to different people, which leads to differing degrees of health, illness, and being in good health.

The WHO created its own definition in 1963 in order to standardize guidelines across regions and to make it easier to assess levels of health throughout the world. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), a pre-determined set of quality indicators is used to establish a definition for what is considered to be optimal health. The four quality indicators are: mortality, quality-of-life measures, community health measures, and functional capacity. According to the most recent definition, mortality is the death rate from all causes; quality-of-life measures is the ability to carry out one or more of the five basic functions and community health measures is the extent of access to services, support, and resources that enhance the general health of the population. On a yearly basis, deaths from cardiovascular diseases, cancers, infections, chronic and life-threatening conditions, and mortality from non-communicable diseases are counted separately.

In addition to mortality rates, quality-of-life measures are taken into account. One major factor considered in this definition is the age-specific mortality ratio of diseases, which is the average number of deaths per 100 person-years at a certain age. Another factor is the age-specific morbidity rate, which indicates the number of deaths per 100 persons in a year from major diseases such as heart diseases, cancer, infectious diseases, and diabetes. Public health is a field that requires continual attention and learning as the world’s population grows older.