Unit 12: Public Health
Key aspects of public health
The official definition public health is the science and art of preventing disease prolonging life and promoting health through the organised efforts of society. In 1988, a report by Sir Donald Acheson reflects the essential focus of modern public health- an emphasis on collective responsibility for health and prevention.
Pass One – Describe key aspects of public health in the UK
Aspects of public health;
Monitoring the health status of the population.
The study of epidemiology is the study of disease in human population. It is particularly important in helping us to understand the spread of infectious diseases and how they can lead to epidemics. Tracking changes in the health of the population and alerting people to potential problems. For example, the rising levels of obesity within the population.
Meaning of epidemiological data
Life expectancy has risen so much mainly because of improved housing diets, sanitation and the decline in the way infectious diseases of epidemics kill people.
Identifying the health needs of population
Once trends and patterns are established, the likely implications for services can be identified, In relation to obesity, this means assessing likely increase in the need for diabetes support services.
Developing programmes to reduce risk and screen for disease early on
Attempting to reduce the levels of ill health by introducing new programmes that identify people as being ‘at risk’ of a condition and engaging them in preventative programmes. For example, a doctor identifying that someone is at risk of developing diabetes because of their obesity and referring them to a weight management programme for support in losing weight.
Controlling communicable disease
Reducing the impact of infectious disease through immunisation and other control measures. While there are obvious examples such as measles, mumps and rubella, this might also include food hygiene measures in restaurants and take-away to control the spread of food poisoning.
Promoting the health of the population
Health-promoting activities to reduce ill health in the population, for obesity this might include campaigns encouraging people to be more active or eat more fruit and vegetables.
Planning and evaluating the provision of health and social care
Assessing the provision of relevant health services and whether or not they are having sufficient impact on the problem. In the case of obesity this might include assessing whether or not, local services can meet the demand for weight management advice. There is sufficient ‘capacity’ (i.e. service provision) to meet the rising demand for obesity-related services. The existing model of services is managing to help people to reduce their weight and sustain that change
Defining targets for a locality, region or country that might lead to disease reduction, improved vaccination rates, etc. A national government target is to halt the rising rates of obesity in children under the age of 11 by 2010. A relevant local target might be based on weighing and measuring reception and year 6 children. This data could be used to track progress against the national target.
Pass Two – Describe the origins of public health policy in the UK from the 19th Century to the present day
The origins of public health policy and current public health strategies
William Beveridge was involved in mobilising and controlling manpower during the First World War. Beveridge published his report in 1942 and recommended that the government should find ways of fighting the five evil giants of want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness.
Following the Second World War, there was a strong feeling that the British people should be rewarded for their sacrifice and resolution. The government promised reforms that would create a more equal society, asking Sir William Beveridge to write a report on the best ways of helping people on low incomes. In December 1942, Beveridge published a empower proposing that all people of working age should pat a weekly contribution. In return, benefits would be paid to people who were sick, unemployed, retired or widowed.
The Five Evil Giants
- Want (income)
- Squalor (housing)
- Ignorance (education)
- Idleness (employment)
John Snow was an English physician and a leader in the adoption of anaesthesia and medical hygiene. He is considered one of the fathers of modern epidemiology, for his work of identifying the source of a cholera outbreak in 1854.