Public health is an important area of medicine that provides health benefits to citizens, acting multidisciplinary at the population level.
The World Health Organization (WHO) definition of public health has been widely accepted for thirty years. According to it, public health is “the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting human health through organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations, public and private, communities and individuals” (Acheson, 1988).
The most acceptable and closest definition is that public health is what we as a society do together to ensure that people are healthy (American Institute of Medicine). These conditions include a wide range of educational, economic and social factors, as well as environmental factors necessary for good health.
Fields of public health activities are:
- Physical, mental and social health of the population;
- Health promotion and disease prevention;
- Environment and health of the population;
- Working environment and health of the population;
- Organization and functioning of the health system;
- Handling in crisis and emergency situations.
To this end ten basic public health functions are defined (Center for Disease Prevention and Control – CDC, Atlanta, USA):
- Monitor health status to identify and solve community health problems
- Diagnose and investigate health problems and health hazards in the community
- Inform, educate, and empower people about health issues
- Mobilize community partnerships and action to identify and solve health problems
- Develop policies and plans that support individual and community health efforts
- Enforce laws and regulations that protect health and ensure safety
- Link people to needed personal health services and assure the provision of health care when otherwise unavailable
- Assure competent public and personal health care workforce
- Evaluate effectiveness, accessibility, and quality of personal and population-based health services
- Research for new insights and innovative solutions to health problems
In our country, public health providers are public health institutes that plan, implement, monitor and evaluate public health activities, coordinate and link the activities of other stakeholders in the public health system.
The participants of public health activities are: government institutions of the Republic of Serbia and the autonomous province, local governments, health service, health insurance organizations, social protection system, health councils in the local governments, educational and other institutions, media, companies and enterprises, entrepreneurs, humanitarian, religious, sports and other organizations and associations, families and citizens.
Source: IOM. The future of the Public’s Health in the 21st Century. Washington, National Academy of Science 2002, ava: http://www.nationalacademies.org/hmd/~/media/Files/Report%20Files/2002/The-Future-of-the-Publics-Health-in-the-21st-Century/Future%20of%20Publics%20Health%202002%20Report%20Brief.pdf
- Bjegović V, Grujić V. Guide to new public health. Center-School of Public Health,
- Belgrade, 2007
- Law on Public Health (“Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia”, No. 15/16)