AGENCY FOR TOXIC SUBSTANCES AND DISEASE REGISTRY

Public health

Public health is an interdisciplinary field. For example, epidemiology, biostatistics and management of health services are all relevant. Other important subfields include environmental health, community health, behavioral health, health economics, public policy, mental health, health education, occupational safety, gender issues in health, and sexual and reproductive health.

Public health plays an important role in disease prevention efforts in both the developing world and in developed countries through local health systems and non-governmental organizations. The World Health Organization (WHO) is the international agency that coordinates and acts on global public health issues. Most countries have their own governmental public health agency, often called the ministry of health, with responsibility for domestic health issues.

Some programs and policies associated with public health promotion and prevention can be controversial. One such example is programs focusing on the prevention of HIV transmission through safe sex campaigns and needle-exchange programmes. Another is the control of tobacco smoking. Changing smoking behavior requires long-term strategies, unlike the fight against communicable diseases, which usually takes a shorter period for effects to be observed. Many nations have implemented major initiatives to cut smoking, such as increased taxation and bans on smoking in some or all public places. Proponents argue by presenting evidence that smoking is one of the major killers, and that therefore governments have a duty to reduce the death rate, both through limiting passive (second-hand) smoking and by providing fewer opportunities for people to smoke. Opponents say that this undermines individual freedom and personal responsibility, and worry that the state may be emboldened to remove more and more choice in the name of better population health overall.

To improve public health, one important strategy is to promote modern medicine and scientific neutrality to drive the public health policy and campaign, which is recommended by Armanda Solorzana, through a case study of the Rockefeller Foundation's hookworm campaign in Mexico in the 1920s. Soloranza argues that public health policy can't concern only politics or economics. Political concerns can lead government officials to hide the real numbers of people affected by disease in their regions, such as upcoming elections. Therefore, scientific neutrality in making public health policy is critical; it can ensure treatment needs are met regardless of political and economic conditions.

Large parts of the world remained plagued by largely preventable or treatable infectious diseases. In addition to this however, many developing countries are also experiencing an epidemiological shift and polarization in which populations are now experiencing more of the effects of chronic diseases as life expectancy increases with, the poorer communities being heavily affected by both chronic and infectious diseases. Another major public health concern in the developing world is poor maternal and child health, exacerbated by malnutrition and poverty. The WHO reports that a lack of exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of life contributes to over a million avoidable child deaths each year. Intermittent preventive therapy aimed at treating and preventing malaria episodes among pregnant women and young children is one public health measure in endemic countries.

Economic modeling based on the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and the World Health Organization has shown a link between international health aid in developing countries and a reduction in adult mortality rates. However, a 20142016 study suggests that a potential confounding variable for this outcome is the possibility that aid was directed at countries once they were already on track for improvement. That same study, however, also suggests that 1 billion dollars in health aid was associated with 364,000 fewer deaths occurring between ages 0 and 5 in 2011.

Education and training of public health professionals is available throughout the world in Schools of Public Health, Medical Schools, Veterinary Schools, Schools of Nursing, and Schools of Public Affairs. The training typically requires a university degree with a focus on core disciplines of biostatistics, epidemiology, health services administration, health policy, health education, behavioral science, gender issues, sexual and reproductive health, public health nutrition, and environmental and occupational health.