MAN AND MEDICINE
Dr Rajesh Beniwal
Department of Community Medicine
DESCRIBE THE CHANGING CONCEPTS OF
PUBLIC HEALTH (SHORT ESSAY QUESTION)
In the evolution of public health, four distinct phases may be demarcated:
a. Disease control phase (1880-1920)
Public health during the 19th century was largely a matter of sanitary
legislation and sanitary reforms. These measures vastly improved the
health of the people due to disease and death control.
b. Health promotional phase (1920-1960)
At the beginning of the 20th century, a new concept, the concept of
"health promotion" began to take shape. It was initiated as personal
services such as mother and child health services, school health services,
industrial health services, mental health and rehabilitation services. Public
health was considered "the science and art of preventing disease,
prolonging life and promoting health and efficiency through organized
community effort". (CEA Winslow)
Since the State had assumed direct responsibility for the health of the
individual, two great movements were initiated for human development
during the first half of the present century, namely
• provision of "basic health services" through the medium of
primary health centers and sub centers for rural and urban areas.
• The second great movement was the Community Development
Program to promote village development through the active
of the whole community and on the initiative of the community.
c. Social engineering phase (1960-1980)
With the advances in preventive medicine and practice of public health,
the pattern of disease began to change in the developed world. The
consequences of chronic diseases, unlike the swift death brought by the
acute infectious diseases, was to place a chronic burden on the society.
These problems brought new challenges to public health which needed
reorientation towards social methods to combat the risk factors of
diseases. Public health entered a new phase in the 1960s, described as
"social engineering" phase. As the treatments of chronic disease were in
the nascent stage, social and behavioral aspects of chronic disease
management were given a new priority. Public health moved into the
preventive and rehabilitative aspects of chronic diseases and behavioral
d. "Health for All" phase (1981-2000 A.D.)
Only 10 to 20 per cent of the population in developing countries was
having ready access to health services of any kind. In 1978, Alma-ata
declaration established primary health care as the pathway to reduce the
health gap between rich and poor and the health gaps within countries
and between countries. It was conceded that the neglected 80 per cent
the world's population too have an equal claim to health care, to
protection from the killer diseases of childhood, to primary health care
mothers and children, to treatment for those ills that mankind has long
ago learnt to control, if not to cure
Against this background, in 1981, the members of the WHO pledged
themselves to an ambitious target to provide "Health for All" by the year
2000, that is attainment of a level of health that will permit all people "to
lead a socially and economically productive life" (32). Currently public
health, along with other medical sciences and other health-related
is engaged in this broad field of effort.
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