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History of Public Health


Public health is a powerful practice towards understanding the development and cycle of diseases. The occurrence of pandemics forced communities to invent new methods towards dealing with them. This fact explains why different practices such as quarantine became common throughout the Middle Ages. This paper offers a concise summary of the history of public health.

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Learning Objectives

Public health is a powerful practice towards understanding the development and cycle of diseases. The targeted course will explore the major issues associated with public health towards professional nursing practice. Students will also use different epidemiology methods. The learners will also track the natural history of a disease and identify its frequency. They will also explore distribution, and cause. This paper offers a concise summary of the history of public health.

History of Public Health

Human beings have been designing new health concepts for centuries. Public health “is the science and art of identifying, preventing, treating, and managing diseases” (Novick & Morrow, 2013, p. 3). The field focuses on the best practices “towards prolonging life, improving people’s hygiene, promoting health, reducing infections, and organizing different health delivery systems” (Kassel, 2007, p. 29). Many people became aware of better health practices. Human beings also constructed more hospitals and health centers.

Early Health Practices

According to religious books, many individuals believed that death and disease resulted from curses. The people also analyzed the connection between pestilences and natural calamities. A few centuries later, the Greeks analyzed the relationship between human health and the environment. A physician by the name Hippocrates pioneered this scientific inquiry (Novick & Morrow, 2013). The Middle Age also resulted in new scientific ideas. People formulated new methods in order to cope with every unhealthy condition. Quarantine was relevant towards controlling the spread of deadly diseases (Aschengrau & Seage, 2013).

The Renaissance Period

According to Weed (2001, p. 106), “new technological advancements evolved during the Renaissance Period”. New scientific achievements were evident during the period. Many societies used different arrangements to deal with various health issues. Scholars and scientists explored the issues of physiology and anatomy. These fields made it easier for scientists to outline the possible causes of different diseases. Scientists understood “the role played by microscopic organisms towards the development of diseases” (Aschengrau & Seage, 2013, p. 24). John Graunt suggested some of the leading causes of diseases.

Developments in the 18th and 19th Centuries

Scientists presented new fields “such as immunology and bacteriology during this period” (Porter, 2011, p. 38). New concepts such as endemics and epidemics emerged. Researchers began to understand the science of various infections and diseases. Many societies also understood the importance of human health. They constructed latrines and introduced new ventilation methods. The Industrial Revolution resulted in better health practices. Many workers faced numerous health complications “thus calling for better inventions” (Aschengrau & Seage, 2013, p. 26). Several governments in Europe supported the idea of poverty reduction (Fleming & Parker, 2009). The first Public Health Act emerged in 1848.

Agostino Bassi explained how different organisms caused various diseases. The Italian bacteriologist introduced new questions that would support future health practices. This invention “encouraged more scientists to examine the potential causal factors of different diseases” (Aschengrau & Seage, 2013, p. 59). Many countries such as Russia, the United States, Italy, and France identified new methods towards supporting their people’s health demands. New insurance programs emerged to support the health needs of different populations.

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New practices such as prenatal care became relevant. Mothers and guardians received new skills to deal with different health complications. Every person was encouraged to teach his or her neighbors about the importance of proper hygiene. Many people appreciated the importance of “good hygiene, exercises, and diet” (Kassel, 2007, p. 54). The health consequences of smoking and drinking became evident in the 20th century.

Modern Developments

New scientific methods have emerged today. Public health practices are focusing on new diseases such as HIV/Aids, Cancer, arthritis, and cardiac diseases. Scholars have analyzed the role of the environment towards supporting the best health conditions. New health educational strategies are encouraging people to engage in positive practices. Epidemiology has become an important discipline of public health.

Every epidemiological method tends to have both practical and theoretical sides. Researchers and scholars “have been identifying new strategies to explain how practice matches theory” (Kassel, 2007, p. 75). This situation explains why “different epidemiological methods are relevant towards tracking the history, frequency, causes, implications, and distributions of various diseases” (Novick & Morrow, 2013, p. 8). Epidemiology has become a critical field in public health. Such methods have become critical towards dealing with new diseases such as Ebola.


The world has recorded some major achievements and gains in public health. Several organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) are promoting the best health practices. This approach is critical towards dealing with certain diseases and health issues. This effort has reduced the number of diseases and deaths in the world. However, some obstacles are making it hard for human beings to achieve the best health goals. Such obstacles “include the lack of resources, improper health systems, and inadequate knowledge” (Fleming & Parker, 2009, p. 57). The developing world has a huge population that is affecting every health outcome. This fact explains why more ideas and strategies will be critical towards making public health a powerful field that addresses the needs of different populations.

Reference List

Aschengrau, A., & Seage, G. (2013). Essentials of Epidemiology in Public Health. New York, NY: Jones and Bartlett Learning.

Fleming, L., & Parker, E. (2009). Introduction to Public Health. New York, NY: Elsevier Health Sciences.

Kassel, A. (2007). Air, the Environment and Public Health. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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Novick, L., & Morrow, C. (2013). Defining Public Health: Historical and Contemporary Developments. Web.

Porter, D. (2011). Health, Civilization and the State: A History of Public Health from Ancient to Modern Times. New York, NY: Rutledge.

Weed, L. (2001). Methods in Epidemiology and Public Health: Does Practice Match Theory? Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 55(1), 104-110.

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