Why public health matters

What is public health?

Public health is the science and practice of preventing disease, protecting health, and promoting well-being for all people. While doctors take care of individuals, those who work in public health focus on advancing the well-being of entire populations.

We do so by:

  • Researching the impact of genetics, environmental exposures, public policies, and personal behaviors.
  • Designing interventions that can reach hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people, such as vaccination programs.
  • Educating communities and promoting the adoption of healthy lifestyles. 

Working in public health

In public health, experts from many disciplines work together to uncover the root causes of complex problems and develop effective solutions.

We monitor the quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink. We explore the causes of workplace injuries and come up with strategies to keep people safe. We uncover new risk factors for cancer – and identify ways to treat it.

We work to mitigate the deadly impacts of climate change. We deliver humanitarian aid in times of crisis. We invent new technology, launch ambitious companies, and craft public policy at every level of government.

And that’s just the start.

The power of public health

Think of the enormous impact the public health community has had during the past century:

  • New vaccines eradicated diseases like smallpox and have almost eliminated polio.
  • Updated nutritional guidance has empowered individuals to minimize their risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
  • Improvements in sanitation, refrigeration, and pasteurization helped keep our food and water safe.
  • Regulations to protect air quality have protected our lungs and saved countless lives.

Now think what we can accomplish in the next 100 years if we work together to tackle some of our greatest challenges – from climate change to structural racism to global pandemics. We can help tens of millions around the world live longer, healthier, more sustainable lives.

This is the power of public health.

Join us in building a world with health, dignity, and justice for all.