What is public health?

This is written content accompanying a youtube video that can be found here.

New round of content #

Ghoopi.com is creating a new round of posts, video content, and course material. We will be covering underreported degrees, providing helpful tips about everyday student life, student funding, and also talking about other higher forms of study including PhDs.

Among this content, we will be specifically focusing on budgeting, navigating student accommodation and travel, as well as creating more content oriented towards under-reported degrees, namely public health, which is the goal of this course. 

Very limited information is available on public health as a degree, and the job prospects available to graduates, so we aim to fill this gap both on youtube, and over on Ghoopi.com.

As such, we will be writing and creating a few lessons on core public health concepts to help explain and slightly demystify the varying topics tied to the field of public health.

In the future, if you feel as if your degree or field of interest isn’t well explained online, let us know and we will be happy to produce more content on that area in the next round of Ghoopi.com content updates.

Brief definition of public health #

The main aim of this video was to learn a little about public health to hopefully give you more of an idea on the field and whether it may interest you in the future.

Public health usually isn’t explained very well. This is because it can mean different things to different people. It may also refer to different concepts in different locations.

A generally accepted definition however is that public health collectively refers to the strategies, analysis, research, and action taken to keep a population healthy.

While doctors look after patients on an individual basis, public health experts examine health on a population level.

Public health utilises statistics, epidemiology, global health trends, and analytical research methods to ensure the best outcomes occur, and the most efficient or beneficial policy implementations are utilised.

Studying epidemiology during the pandemic #

Let’s take a minute to consider the pandemic. Not many people were aware of public health terminology before it. But ever since it swept through the world, so did public health terminology.

We have all now heard of the R number, we likely have seen epidemic curves, heard terms such as positivity, cases incidence rates, prevalence, incubation period, diagnostic test sensitivity and specificity etc.

All these terms originate from a major stem of public health known as epidemiology. 

Epidemiologists are concerned with the distribution and determinants of health-related states or events in specified populations, and the application of this study to the control of health problems. 

This is quite a lot to unpack, and actually, confusing definitions like this may be part of the reason why public health confuses people so much. 

So let’s unpack that, shall we?

In shorthand, epidemiology is concerned with who has what, where, and why?

We used keywords such as distribution, determinants, and health-related states to summarise the main aims of an epidemiologist.

Distribution  #

this refers to an analysis by person, place and time etc.

Determinants  #

All factors that impact health – biological, physical, social, behavioural etc.

In a bit more detail, a determinant is essentially any characteristic that affects the health of a population. Diet, for example, is a determinant of overall health.

Determinants can be grouped as: primary or secondary; intrinsic or extrinsic; and associated with the host, agent or environment. These are 3 broad groups of determinants.

These can refer to events or diseases. Behaviours such as smoking, events of preventative programs, and the use of health services are examples of such states.

Specified Populations  #

those with common characteristics such as children or an occupational group.

Control of health problems #

Promote, protect, restore health which can be in the context of primary, secondary and tertiary prevention.

  • Primary prevention – Such as delivering courses online. Preventative strategies that come before onset of illness.
  • Secondary Prevention – Early intervention that decreases prevalence and spread of a specific problem
  • Tertiary Prevention – Treatments for improving quality of life AFTER the disease has developed. It doesn’t reduce incidence or prevalence.

Public health is also highly statistics based. Statistics allows us to compare different populations, test policy implementations, estimate and approximate things, and much more. 

Many people are often surprised by how much maths is involved in public health. But this is bound to be the case. Public health professionals are enumerating incidences, prevalences and analysing routine data which requires a large number of statistical analyses and potentially even mathematical modelling.

At its crux, public health ensures that the wider population is kept safe and healthy! It is very multifaceted, however, there is often a lot of overlap between the different disciplines. One person isn’t an expert on all of public health, and therefore a public health expert doesn’t know everything about public health.

It is however important to understand all the different branches, and how they may connect together.

In the next video, we will talk more about epidemiology, and how we can utilise it to gain a solid understanding of current events, and the management strategies we may put in place to handle threats against the health of the public.

We will also be discussing what to expect from the average epidemiology university course to hopefully give you a head start if you were thinking of applying to a public health degree, and lastly, we will talk about how what you learn in public health may benefit you in a job role, and the types of jobs you can apply. 

This is the general structure we will follow when also speaking on statistics, health research, and global public health. This is the first video in the series, and you can watch the rest over on Ghoopi.com. Links will be left in the description, and if you have any form of interest in studying public health, I’d highly recommend checking them out!

You can find a written transcript of this video over at Ghoopi.com, along with more free resources and blogs about public health, and other health-related degrees that may potentially suit you. All the links are in the description.

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