What is Public Health?

Public health is the practice of preventing disease, injury, and disability; protecting people from disease outbreaks and public health threats; and promoting policies, practices, and conditions that support good health.  With a primary focus on wellness and prevention, public health is a cost-effective means of addressing health at a population level, often well before individual problems become acute. 

What are Some Resources that Describe the Vital Role of Public Health?

Operational Definition of a Functional Local Health Department

The National Association of County and City Health Officials(NACCHO) produced the Operational Definition of a Functional Local Health Department.  The Operational Definition consists of 10 functions and 45 standards that define the competencies citizens can reasonably expect from their local health department.

APHA’s “What is Public Health?”

The American Public Health Association (APHA) has drafted a one-page document called What is Public Health? that briefly defines public health, explains who does it and why it’s important, and provides examples of it.

This is Public Health Fact Sheet

The Association of Schools of Public Health launched the “This Is Public Health” Campaign to promote public health awareness nationwide.  Their This is Public Health fact sheet is intended to convey key messages about the contributions of public health to media, community leaders, and other audiences.

Public Health and Health Equity

NACCHO produced Developing Policies to Advance Health Equity: The Role of Public Health, which, among other things, explores how public health officials can act to promote health equity in their communities.

Healthy People 2020

Healthy People 2020 provides science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans.  Healthy People establishes benchmarks and monitors progress over time to encourage collaborations across sectors, guide individuals toward making informed health decisision, and measure the impact of prevention activities.

Where Can I Learn More?


The American Public Health Association (APHA) created a short film to outline how public health is vital to creating the healthiest nation in one generation.


The National Association Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) created a short film about the vital and heroic role of public health.