Public suffers as public health sector goes neglected

Karachi: General public has been suffering a lot in Karachi as the vital sector of public health is left orphaned and the federal, provincial and local government institutes are not discharging their responsibility to maintain the public health standards in the mega city.

Public health refers to the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting human health through organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations, public and private, communities and individuals. It is concerned with threats to health based on population health analysis. The population in question can be as small as a handful of people, or as large as all the inhabitants of several continents (for instance, in the case of a pandemic). The dimensions of health can encompass a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, as defined by the United Nations’ World Health Organization.

Public health incorporates the interdisciplinary of epidemiology, biostatistics and health services. Environmental health, community health, behavioral health, health economics, public policy, mental health and occupational safety and health are other important subfields.

The focus of public health intervention is to improve health and quality of life through prevention and treatment of disease and other physical and mental health conditions. This is done through surveillance of cases and health indicators, and through promotion of healthy behaviors. Examples of common public health measures include promotion of hand-washing, breastfeeding, delivery of vaccinations, suicide prevention and distribution of condoms to control the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Modern public health practice requires multidisciplinary teams of public health workers and professionals including the following: physicians specializing in public health, community medicine, or infectious disease; psychologists; epidemiologists; biostatisticians; medical assistants or Assistant Medical Officers; public health nurses; midwives; medical microbiologists; environmental health officers or public health inspectors; pharmacists; dentists; dietitians and nutritionists; veterinarians; public health engineers; public health lawyers; sociologists; community development workers; communications experts; bioethicists; and others.

There is a great disparity in access to health care and public health initiatives between developed nations and developing nations. In the developing world, public health infrastructures are still forming.

Public health is a field for people who care about the greater good of human beings.

If that sounds self-important, consider this: Millions of people are alive today thanks to a handful of public health initiatives, such as vaccination programs, motor vehicle safety laws, restrictions on the use of tobacco, family planning, and clean air and water standards.

The field of public health is constantly evolving in response to the needs of communities and populations around the world. The underlying mission of public health is to improve the conditions and behaviors that affect health so that all people can attain it. That mission includes not only the practice of public health policy, but the research of public health issues and the education of future leaders who eventually will translate that research into practices and policies to improve the health of people regionally, nationally, and globally.

Public health has a real and lasting positive effect on people. It helps promote a healthy environment. It is a moral and ethical imperative.

The work of public health professionals is important because public health initiatives affect people every day in every part of the world. It addresses broad issues that can affect the health and well-being of individuals, families, communities, populations, and societies-both now, and for generations to come.

Karachi one of the mega cities of the world seriously lacks a proper public health initiative to save health and lives of its citizens. Due to lack of focus on public health the city faces hills of garbage, over-following gutters, worsening pollution, chronic civic issues and ever growing disease burden. Emergence of vector-borne diseases like dengue and Chikungunya is also mainly due to negligence towards the public health sector.

As compared to Sindh, Punjab province is far ahead in respect of the public health, where the Institute of Public Health (IPH) has been working since 1949. This institute is s aimed at providing Pakistan with the best professional health experts. It focuses on making the country a disease and epidemic free community in accordance with the International standards.

The IPH works to promote community medicine as a key to the success of health care programs in Pakistan. It conducts teaching & research for post graduate courses in community medicine like Masters in Public Health (MPH) by University of Health Sciences, Masters in Maternal & Child Health (MMCH) by University of Health Sciences, Masters in Hospital Management (MHM) by University of Health Sciences, M.Phil. by University of Health Sciences, MCPS by College of Physicians & Surgeons, and FCPS by College of Physicians & Surgeons.

It also conducts paramedical courses relating to public health, organizes conferences and meetings of educational nature for scientific discussions and practical demonstrations on various aspects of community medicine.

During epidemics or other emergent situations, the Institute staff is called upon to conduct epidemiological investigations and advise/organize Community Health Program for the control of such odd situations. It also utilizes the services of the staff as consultants by the Pakistan Government to investigate public health problems and suggest solutions to overcome them, and establishes model centres in the urban/rural areas with a view to demonstrate achievements of standardized primary health care.

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