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

Synopsis

"a well constructed and informed textbook that covered the breadth of public health from globalisation to the hierarchies of evidence" healthmattersThis book explores the meaning of the 'new' public health within current debates, and the policy changes that are reshaping the context for public health. It moves away from public health medicine to a multi-disciplinary approach to public health concerns. This book asks:
• Why is a multidisciplinary approach to public health important and where is its future?
• What is the nature of the new multidisciplinary public health?
• How can multidisciplinary public health professionals move towards an evidence-informed public health practice?With analysis and reflection upon public health history theories, research and practice, Public Health for the 21st Century engages advanced undergraduate and graduate students, trainees and professionals across a broad range of disciplines. Contributors: Gill Barrett, Jack Dowie, David Evans, Colin Fudge, Alison Gilchrist, Melanie Grey, Tony Harrison, Stuart Hashagen, David J. Hunter, Stuart McClean, Chris Miller, Jennie Naidoo, Judy Orme, Stephen Peckham, Jon Pollock, Jane Powell, Joyshri Sarangi, Gabriel Scally, Murray Stewart, Pat Taylor.

Excerpt

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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