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Article

Anupama Chauhan

Public Health and its Complexity

We are in the midst of a pandemic which has taken over one million lives (as per reports), and still continuous its grave effect across the globe. The pandemic has not only affected the health of people but also their livelihood in ways which are uncertain. The debilitating effects of this health crises across the world has made our leaders question the approach we have towards development. COVID-19 is the biggest setback to the Sustainable and development goals towards their agenda of attaining a total of 17 goals by 2030 to ensure all people have peace and prosperity on the planet. Even the past progress towards development have come to a standstill, diverting all the resources towards tackling the coronavirus pandemic. And though we are still struggling with the new cases that are emerging in different parts of the world, now there is even a recovery phase that has to be looked after. The consequence that are and will be the part of society for long term due to the pandemic, are not only health related but socio-economic, environmental, educational amongst others.

In spite of such technological advancement a bio hazard was one thing we were not prepared to conquer, there could be many reasons depending on the political, economic and demographic differences across the globe. But when it comes to health, it is a fundamental right of every human being regardless of the different sects in the community. The third SDG is GOOD HEALTH AND WELLBEING, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that we need to be very firm with our Public health sector and not limit to the importance of public health only to one aspect. Public health is defined as “the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and improving quality of life through the organised efforts and informed choices of society, organisation, communities and individuals”- CEA Winslow, 1920.

Over the years too much focus had been made toward the medical approach of public health, making it a mono- disciplinary approach for example development of vaccine which has been helpful in contracting many illness in the past. When it comes to the Mono- Disciplinary approach of Public health, it always involves people from the same academic background discussing and working towards a specific agenda. They have very little knowledge of other fields and so it does not work well limiting their success. This also results in narrowing down the reach on a vast platform.

Public health is a complex model because of different group of people involved in like health organisations, researchers, medical health professionals, policy makers, patient groups etc. But all these groups have been working separately and this led to the decline in the desired result by each sector. This calls for an integrated approach towards public health. With the world evolving and revolutionary changes taking place in different fields it is important that we see Public health in a different light with a new and more diverse point of view. We need to shift our focus from traditional/ Mono-Disciplinary to Trans- Disciplinary ways of working and learning.

A trans- disciplinary approach means creating unity of intellectual frame work beyond the disciplinary perspective. The core concept remains, the research and development along with the critical elements in different fields giving us an opportunity to discuss the different conflicts in different field on a common platform. This will give us a chance to work with different field of expertise jointly sharing their knowledge, work with an agenda towards a common goal problem. It will not only broaden the area toward better understanding and development of issues but also ensure a better reach of the benefits in the society.

The focus of Public health has always been to acquire data, process it. Redefine the problem and generate ideas leading to evaluation and developing of a potential solution. This when approached in a form where all the disciplines are considered equal and participation is an interactive discussion focusing with one common goal of finding a prototype solution and deploying it, will lead to a much more accomplished outcome of Public health sector.

This pandemic is a health crisis, but the economic status, mental well- being, educational development and others being some major impacts of the virus other than primary health leaving a lot of people on the edge of vulnerability.

In terms to Public health we need to understand, rather than paying attention to one particular field we need to united approach towards problem solving. Needs assessment is very important on individual community level. Along with this real world trans- disciplinary approach in the coming days is of immense importance. There is a need for public health educators, leader, implementer, evaluator now more than ever.

The most important lessons that we should be learning from the pandemic is not only about the importance of Public health and the change needed in its approach, but also that, countries across the world need to focus and invest more in public health, health care sector including in the research of infectious diseases and also the accessibility of health is equal to all irrespective of the age, gender, caste and other social discrimination.

Investment being one of the major contributing factors when it comes to the development of any sector, one thing has always grabbed my attention is the point of view of Prof. Joe Thomas- “While treating Patients affected by COVID-19, nearly 700 medical professional lost their lives, what would have been the countries response if the same number of soldiers had passed away. There is a wide gap between the security of health care workers and soldiers. We need to understand that along with the investment done towards the border security there is an alarming need to invest towards public health sector also for a better future with health for all”.

Public health has been unsupported, misunderstood, underfunded for too long, and the COVID pandemic has just made us more evidently aware of it. Public health too important to be ignored any further or to be studied with a mono-disciplinary approach. There needs to be more appreciation towards this field. A deeper integrated framing along with innovation and skills need to be supported and encouraged.

“What is true of all evils in the world is true of plague as well. It helps men to rise above themselves.”-
 Albert Camus

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