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What is Public Health?

Focusing on public health as a frame for helping people and communities thrive starts with a common understanding of health and public health and related areas of study and practice.

Health is as state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity.

--  Preamble to the Constitution for the World Health Organization

Public health promotes and protects the health of people and the communities where they live, learn, work and play. ​​

--  American Public Health Association at

Public health is “the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life, and promoting health through the organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations, public and private communities, and individuals."

--  Charles-Edward Armory Winslow

Health equity is the state in which everyone has a fair and just opportunity to attain their highest level of health. Achieving this requires focused and ongoing societal efforts to address historical and contemporary injustices; overcome economic, social, and other obstacles to health and healthcare; and eliminate preventable health disparities.

--  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

 Major Areas of Study and Practice

This list and more specialties are provided by the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health.

  • Behavioral and Social Science
  • Biostatistics and Informatics
  • Community Health
  • Environmental Health
  • Epidemiology
  • Global Health
  • Health Policy and Management
  • Health Promotion and Communication
  • Maternal and Child Health
  • Minority Health and Health Disparities