What is public health?
Definitions and applications
Imagine your dearest friend or relative has fallen dangerously ill. A few hours later someone else very close to you comes down with the same symptoms, and within one day all of your neighbours are similarly affected. It becomes clear that you are the only person who will remain healthy in your area. What would your reaction be? Would you feel that your obligations had been fulfilled when you saw that each of your ill friends was admitted to a hospital where they would receive the best possible care? Would you make sure that your neighbours received the same kind of care? Or would you also start to wonder what experience or environment these people had shared, and how it was that you were spared from illness? If so, you would have moved from thinking about your private concerns for particular people (and for yourself) to a broader concern for what has been called the public domain or the common good. These kind of concerns, and the activities that follow from them, shape an important area of effort in the public domain. It is called public health.