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Public health: who, what, and why?

  • Jason L. CabajEmail author
  • Richard Musto
  • William A. Ghali
Special Section on Why Public Health Matters Today: Commentary
  • 16 Downloads

Abstract

There has been renewed concern about the state of public health in Canada, with several recent articles in this journal suggesting that the discipline of public health is under threat and that there has been a significant erosion of its core infrastructure. We strongly agree with the need for a well-resourced formal public health system and preservation of capacity to carry out core public health functions, while also positing a complementary narrative that emphasizes the possibility for a broad notion of public health to persevere and thrive in the face of these challenges. We consider what public health is, who public health is, and why public health exists, and suggest that the answers to these questions point to opportunities to strengthen the necessary interdisciplinary approaches that can best address current and future public health concerns.

Keywords

Public health Health in all policies Advocacy 

Résumé

L’état de la santé publique au Canada suscite des préoccupations renouvelées; plusieurs articles publiés récemment dans cette revue indiquent que la discipline de la santé publique est. menacée, et que son infrastructure de base subit une érosion importante. Nous convenons tout à fait de la nécessité d’avoir un système de santé publique officiel doté de ressources suffisantes et de préserver la capacité d’exercer les fonctions essentielles de la santé publique, mais nous avançons aussi un discours complémentaire qui insiste sur la possibilité d’une notion élargie de la santé publique pour persévérer et prospérer malgré les difficultés. Nous examinons en quoi consiste la santé publique, qui en sont les acteurs et pourquoi elle existe, et nous faisons valoir que les réponses à ces questions suggèrent des possibilités de renforcer les démarches interdisciplinaires nécessaires les mieux à même d’aborder les préoccupations actuelles et futures en santé publique.

Mots-clés

Santé publique La santé dans toutes les politiques Défense des droits 

Notes

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Community Health Sciences, Cumming School of MedicineUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  2. 2.O’Brien Institute for Public Health, Cumming School of MedicineUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  3. 3.Population Public & Indigenous Health, Alberta Health ServicesCalgaryCanada
  4. 4.Department of Medicine, Cumming School of MedicineUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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