Public health is the prevention of disease, extension of life and upholding human health through policies and providing civic education to society. It deals with the threats to the health of a population; which may range from a few people to the entire world, for example in the case of a pandemic such as HIV/AIDS (Kirch, 2008). Public health serves the following purposes:
- Prevention and treatment of diseases.
- Protecting the environment, food, and water of a population
- Observing the health status of a population
- Responding to health crises
- Ensuring quality, accessibility, and accountability of healthcare
- Linking vulnerable and at-risk populations to proper health care
- Researching on, and developing sound health policies to improve the quality of public health.
Common public health initiatives practiced worldwide include the campaign for hand washing, breastfeeding, child vaccination and distribution of prophylactics.