preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through organized efforts and informed choices of society and individuals
Newspaper headlines from around the world about polio vaccine tests (13 April 1955)
Public health has been defined as "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". Analyzing the health of a population and the threats it faces is the basis for public health. The public can be as small as a handful of people or as large as a village or an entire city; in the case of a pandemic it may encompass several continents. The concept of health takes into account physical, psychological and social well-being. As such, according to the World Health Organization, it is not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
Public health plays an important role in disease prevention efforts in both the developing world and in developed countries through local health systems and non-governmental organizations. The World Health Organization (WHO) is the international agency that coordinates and acts on global public health issues. Most countries have their own governmental public health agency, often called the ministry of health, with responsibility for domestic health issues.