Public Health for the 21st Century: New Perspectives on Policy, Participation, and Practice

Public Health for the 21st Century: New Perspectives on Policy, Participation, and Practice

Public Health for the 21st Century: New Perspectives on Policy, Participation, and Practice

Public Health for the 21st Century: New Perspectives on Policy, Participation, and Practice


"Public Health for the 21st Century is a comprehensive consideration of the emerging challenges for public health policy makers. Its structure makes it accessible to those wishing to dip into specific areas as well as being both coherent and comprehensible to those who may wish to read the whole volume. It is a valuable addition to any public health library."
Journal of Environmental Health Research

"This is a timely and comprehensive review of the new public health. The book demonstrates a capacity and readiness of the public health community to engage the population to achieve the 'fully engaged scenario' that remains the major health challenge for the UK. Replacing 'political restlessness' with political resolve might be the key ingredient that has been missing."

"The second edition of this text is a very welcome addition to the public health library. The sweep of its interests and the vision it encapsulates marks it out as a true standard bearer for public health into the 21st Century. Its approach is comprehensive and its subject matter compelling. In spite of the challenges ahead for public health, the book reminds us of the quality of those practicing and writing about the subject in the UK today."
Mike Kelly, Director of the Centre for Public Health Excellence, The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)

This bestselling book has been substantially updated to take account of changing policy and practice. The introduction has been re-written to form a new chapter giving a comprehensive overview of the field of public health, making the book much more accessible to a wider audience.

Throughout this book, the authors analyse and reflect upon the influence of history, research and procedures upon contemporary public health practice. The text explores the debates surrounding the meaning of public health and looks at the policy changes that are reshaping its context. Also examined are the contributions that epidemiology and health economics make to public health.

Public Health for the 21st Century is essential reading for those involved in developing and implementing policies for health improvement, health protection and the reduction of inequalities in health. It also appeals to a wider audience of professionals, lay people and students who are interested in the wider health and well being of their communities.


The term public health may conjure up a variety of ideas. For some it means drains and sewage. To others it might mean visions of people queuing up for mass X-rays, immunization and screening. For still others it might summon up thoughts about housing conditions, slum clearance and school dinners. And in the contemporary world for some, public health embraces a vision of creating a healthy environment and an environmentally sustainable planet.

All these visions are valid and are grounded in the historical facts of the gradual and eventually systematic improvement in the health of the public that we have witnessed since the early part of the 19th century in Britain. The conquest of killer infections, the improvement in housing conditions and nutritional standards, the regulations introduced to control dangerous occupational hazards like asbestos and other carcinogenic agents and in recent times the decreasing acceptability of cigarette smoking have, among other things, made us as a population much healthier than we once were. Indeed some would argue that the health benefits which we enjoy are really a human right. We have attained them and all that is required is that we somehow maintain the status quo.

This is a deceptive if appealing conclusion. It is deceptive on a number of grounds and it is those grounds which make public health so challenging and which in their different ways the chapters in this book deal with. The right to health and the improved health status we now enjoy were actually very hard won. Protecting our environment in the future will require even harder effort. At every stage in the history of public health there have been vested interests that opposed measures that improved or protected public health. It may seem blindingly obvious in 21st century Britain that it is bad for children to go to work at the age of 6 in a coal mine or a factory, or that to provide the means to remove human excrement from houses is good for the health of the people that live in them, or that protecting populations from the ravages of measles and whooping cough, rickets and diphtheria prevents suffering and death. But it was not always so. When these and virtually every other public health measure were originally proposed, there were those who opposed what we now take for granted.

The conclusion is also deceptive because there is still a long way to go. The clean . . .

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