The field of public health seems like a recent invention, but epidemiology is as old as Hippocrates and the Chinese tried immunising in 1000 BC. What is public health? How did it come together as a field and what attracted you to it?
Public health is society’s way of maximising health. When it comes to your personal health, you might think about eating well or exercising. In public health we think about the structure of society and how to encourage people to be healthier, how to make the default value the healthier value. Hippocrates said something to the effect that prevention is always better than cure. Public health is the science of prevention. It goes way beyond healthcare – it includes health in the workplace, healthy water, food and air, and more. Vaccinations provide one of the key approaches to public health and are one of the key aspects that make public health so remarkably successful.
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