Quality healthcare is essential to take care of our health and protect our well-being. The public health services are not only in charge of providing adequate treatments but also of preventing the appearance of diseases, reducing their complications and improving our quality of life, both at the individual and community level.
WHAT IS PUBLIC HEALTH?
Public health is all those actions carried out by a society to promote, maintain and protect the health of the community, as well as to prevent the appearance of diseases, injuries and disabilities . Its main objective is to promote the health and well-being of each of its members, enhance longevity and improve their quality of life, avoiding as much as possible the development of diseases and psychological disorders.
WHAT IS THE OBJECT OF STUDY OF PUBLIC HEALTH?
The object of study of public health is very broad since health depends on both biological, social, political and environmental variables. Therefore, this scientific discipline studies the health / disease process and the ways in which society responds to it , which implies constantly moving from the individual to the collective level, including the exercise of public power and climate changes.
THE CHALLENGES OF PUBLIC HEALTH AT THE GLOBAL LEVEL
- Universalization of health. Did you know that poverty is the main cause of poor health and lack of social cohesion? For this reason, one of the greatest public health challenges in the 21st century is precisely to reduce health differences between countries . This implies greater investments in health and a more equitable distribution of resources globally. The objective is to ensure that all people can access adequate health services, regardless of their condition or origin.
- Strengthen health throughout life. Current health services are more curative than preventive. That is why it is necessary to promote large-scale prevention campaigns in which health is reinforced throughout life . These campaigns must start from an early age as poor health indicators in childhood become risk variables in adulthood and extend into old age to promote healthier aging and avoid dependency.
- Improve mental health. Mental health has been the Cinderella of health programs. However, cases of anxiety, depression and addictions have grown exponentially, affecting the quality of life of the people who suffer from them and becoming one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. Therefore, one of the main public health challenges is to integrate prevention and treatment programs for psychological disorders that improve the mental health of all people.
- Prevention of communicable diseases. The recent Covid-19 pandemic has exposed deficiencies in the approach to highly communicable diseases. However, due to the effects of climate change, zoonoses will be more common, so health services must prepare to face this challenge. It is necessary to integrate health promotion and disease prevention actions with the treatment of patients, putting in place effective immunization programs to control or even eradicate these diseases.
- Greater integration of the health sector. Health services represent a great cost to the public purse, so it is essential to implement a more efficient model based on quality primary care. At the heart of this system is the nurse, who can advise on life habits and provide home care services, while the family doctor provides more specialized care. In this way, faster and more effective treatment can be guaranteed, reinforcing prevention. Secondary and tertiary care, on the other hand, must deal with diagnostic and therapeutic tasks that cannot be offered in primary care.
- Safe application of new technologies. New technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, nanotechnology, 3D bioprinting, advanced robotics and cognitive technologies are changing the way we approach health. With 3D bioprinting, organs and tissues can be obtained, with wearables it is possible to permanently monitor health parameters and with deep learning models it is possible to make more precise early diagnoses or predict the course of an epidemic. However, one of the greatest public health challenges in the coming years will be to apply these new technological advances without depersonalizing health care and guaranteeing the privacy of patients’ medical data.