What is public health?
Public health is the science of protecting and improving the health of people and their communities. This work is achieved by promoting healthy lifestyles, researching disease and injury prevention, and detecting, preventing and responding to infectious diseases.
Overall, public health is concerned with protecting the health of entire populations. These populations can be as small as a local neighborhood, or as big as an entire country or region of the world.
While a doctor treats people who are sick, those of us working in public health try to prevent people from getting sick or injured in the first place. Public health professionals try to prevent problems from happening or recurring through implementing educational programs, recommending policies, administering services and conducting research. Public health also works to limit health disparities. A large part of public health is promoting healthcare equity, quality and accessibility.
Tracking, responding to, and preventing costly food and water contamination and disease outbreaks are essential to protecting the public’s health. Yet new, complex threats and recession budget cuts have made it harder for the public health system to protect and serve Washington’s families and communities. Rebuilding our public health services means we can better monitor and coordinate emergency response — keeping our communities safe, reducing costs for taxpayers, and protecting our local economy.