The Role of Public Health in Health and Social Care
A healthy nation is a wealthy nation. Public health necessitates for the right of citizens to
be accorded quality health and safety by the government. Interventions on public health focus on
the health needs of the entire population, although they also provide individual clinical
preventive care. To meet healthcare goals, healthcare institutions must assess the community’s
health status and analyze factors that could be responsible for poor health. To achieve this,
appropriate public and social policies should be put in place, community-based prevention
activities should be developed, and delivery of comprehensive and high quality services should
be done. Currently, UK has a number of health problems which range from increased incidences
of chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease, and certain cancers.
Environmental hazards, drug-abuse, sedentary lifestyles, poor nutrition, and tobacco-induced
illnesses are other factors that have had a significant impact on the progression of public health.
Therefore, it is the role of the government and other public agencies to ensure that proper
interventions are in place to minimize these occurrences.
Nationwide discussions across UK on health care reforms fundamentally overlook the
significance of public health principles and the responsibility of public health agencies in
improving and maintaining the health of the general public. It is imperative for the community to
create and sustain conditions under which its members can be healthy. The duty of maintaining
and improving the public’s health is accorded to all sectors of the society more so to the public
health agencies. A public health agency refers to an institution that offers health care services
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such as nursing or therapeutic services either locally or internationally through nurses,
physicians, social workers, therapists, and home markers that it recruits and supervises. Public
health activities are conducted through several levels ranging from local, national, to global
agencies. These organizations share a number of functions including provision of access to
health care, policy development, and disease surveillance. Examples of agencies in the UK
include European Union (EU), Agency for Health Research and Quality (AHRQ), International
Red Cross, and the National Health Service (NHS). Agencies at the international level include
World Health Organization and UNICEF.
Roles of WHO
Some of the core functions of WHO in public health include: provision of leadership on
crucial health care matters; and participating in partnerships that require joint partnership with
other agencies to address global health issues; molding the research agenda and initiating the
generation, translation, and conveyance of significant knowledge (World Health Organization,
2014). WHO monitors the health situation and evaluates trends in health care. It also articulates
ethical and policy options that are evidence-based.
Good health is a primary concern across Europe. The EU implements its policies to
promote public health, promote research in healthcare, and prevent diseases and threats in
The National Health Service (NHS)
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This is the principal agency in the UK that is charged with the responsibility of
safeguarding people’s health and offering critical human services across UK. It also implements
programs that are geared towards preventing the outbreak and spread of diseases.
International Red Cross
This agency provides compassionate care to needy individuals. The volunteers, donors,
and employees of the organization have a common agenda of preventing and alleviate suffering
locally and internationally through the provision of services such as disaster relief, providing
lifesaving blood et cetera.
Epidemiology refers to the study of the distribution of health-related events or states in
certain populations and the use of the study in preventing and controlling health problems. One
of the primary roles of epidemiologists is to develop policies that are aimed at monitoring the
prevalence of both infectious and non-infectious diseases. HIV/AIDS is one of the most
prevalent infectious diseases in the UK. A 2014 survey indicated that over 103, 000 individuals
in the UK are living with HIV. This translates to a prevalence rate of about 1.9% per 1,000
persons that are above 15 yrs. In the same year, approximately 6,150 persons were diagnosed
with HIV and over 600 died of AIDS-associated illnesses.
However, the health care sector through its agencies has increased access to antiretroviral
treatment in the United Kingdom in recent years. In 2014, about 90% of patients with HIV were
on antiretroviral treatment. In the UK, the group that is highly predisposed to the risk of
developing HIV is the men who have sex with men (MSM), with approximately 45, 000
individuals in this category suffering from HIV/AIDS. This number is projected to continue
rising. The other groups of individuals that are also at risk of the disease are black Africans,
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heterosexual men and women, and drug addicts. Despite recording declining rates, the agencies
face a major challenge of late diagnosis of HIV.
Cardiovascular disease has been reported to be a leading cause of mortality not only in
the UK, but across the globe as well. Research studies established that in the UK, there were
more than 1.5 million episodes associated with this disorder in NHS hospitals (van der Linde et
al., 2013). This translates to about 10% of all in-patient episodes among men compared to 6.2%
in women. Over 300 million prescriptions were dispensed to patients with cardiovascular disease
more than 6 times compared to those dispensed in 1981. The studies reported further that 16% of
male deaths and 10% of female deaths resulted due to cardiovascular disease, a total sum of
Regardless of whether an institution is a local or a global health department, several
major functions are usually performed. The organizations put in place a number of strategies to
aid in controlling of diseases. Some of these strategies include;
Health care agencies use this strategy in providing in-depth knowledge about a certain
health topic. Education programs can be provided through seminars, workshops, webinars,
lectures, and courses. The education presents important information to the targeted populations
on health threats/benefits related to the health issue. For instance, through education, the public
can be taught on the causes of a disease, the risk factors related to the disease, signs and
symptoms, and the preventive measures. The need for seeking quick medical attention upon
suspicion of a particular disease is emphasized in these programs. Public awareness helps a great
deal in curbing the prevalence of diseases since people know what to do in case of a disease
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outbreak. Health education has the advantage of broadening perspectives and changes the minds
of the people. However, some aspects of health education impose blind ideas upon the people.
Educators may at times use complex health care names that discourage people from learning
whatever they are told.
Immunization provides long-term lifelong protection against diseases such as chicken
pox, measles, TB, and pneumococcal disease. Immunization protects individuals from diseases
that affect them as adolescents and adults, and the diseases they might encounter while crossing
borders. For instance, health care agencies encourage travelers to Africa and certain parts of
South America to receive yellow fever vaccine; a disease that is prevalent in these regions.
Immunization is also used to provide “herd immunity.” This is a phenomenon whereby everyone
in the community is offered vaccination. When a sufficient number of people are immunized, it
becomes difficult for a disease to acquire foothold in the society. This in turn provides some
protection to persons such as newborns and patients with chronic diseases that are unable to
receive vaccinations. Therefore, the likelihood of an outbreak that could expose them to the
disease is reduced. Some of the advantages of this strategy include its cost-effectiveness, and it
provides herd immunity that protects the whole population. However, some immunizations are
associated with risks. For instance, some individuals have been reported to develop mild
reactions to the vaccine. The vaccine can also result in development of other conditions. A good
example is the MMR (mumps, measles, and rubella) vaccine which has been documented to have
a link with autism (Demicheli et al., 2013). Live vaccines can cause diseases when administered
to immune-compromised individuals.
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An effective control of infectious diseases requires surveillance of morbidity, mortality,
population risk, and the trends of the disease agents. Surveillance aids in identification of new
and emerging pathogens. Data acquired from this study helps in timely detection of etiologic
agents which aids in implementation of control and preventive measures. Surveillance also aids
in pinpointing fields where action can be implemented to decrease the contamination by the
disease-causing microorganisms. For instance, surveillance can identify possibility of infection
in food production areas such as slaughter houses, farms, and production plants where it will put
in place measures to curb incidences of infection.
Other measures that have since been used include isolation and quarantine, controls along
international borders, workplace closing, and encouraging the public to increase social distance
in controlling communicable diseases such as tuberculosis and Ebola.
There are quite a number of approaches that have been utilized to set priorities for health
research at the national and international level. According to Livingston et al. (2013), priorities
for health research are set by use of technical analyses which is dependent on quantifiable
epidemiologic, financial, clinical and other data. On the same note, interpretive assessment can
be used which is dependent on consensuses views of informed participants. Technical
approaches are also applied based on the availability of data. However, the priorities are inclined
on the measurable units for instance disease or intervention.
Some of the strategies that have been used patient education about management of a
disease. Educational interventions can have significant impact especially on the management of a
disease since patients are thought about risk factors of a disease, its pathophysiology as well as
ways of adhering to medication to prevent development progression of the disease
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complications. Music therapy is another technique that has been used to improve positive
outcomes of patients especially those that are under palliative care. This is because it aids in
enhancing the cognitive functioning, emotional development, motor skills, and social skills. The
therapy involves music experiences such as singing, listening, and creation of songs. Massaging
and complementary medicine are also other techniques that have been used in patients with
neuropathies. Disease prevention is another approach used by health care providers in managing
diseases. Through this intervention, the public is taught on the etiology of a disease and how to
avoid situations that may predispose them to contracting the disease.
On the same note, health care institutions can also use palliative care for people with
serious illnesses (Pratt & Wood, 2015). It aims at offering relief from the symptoms and stress of
chronic illness with promotion of quality life. Palliative care can be provided concurrently with
treatments directed at curing and treating a disease. This is approach is used to reduce agony in
patients suffering from cancer, dementia, kidney failure, cardiac disease, and HIV/AIDS. This
approach is appropriate at almost all stages of serious illness.
According to (Crippa et al., 2014), prevalence is basically the number of all novel and old
circumstances of incidences of an event or illnesses within a specific period. The value of
prevalence is arrived by dividing the sum of occurrence of the health meter within a particular
period by the proportions of the indicator that is being investigated. Healthcare practitioners use
prevalence as a metric in planning and setting facility requirements. Prevalence is more preferred
as compared to occurrence when evaluating the effect of a disease within the public or
successive desires because its statistics are easy to gather as compared to frequency data. The
prevalence of a disease is also essential in planning for the type of services that are required.
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More funds and staff are allocated to areas with high prevalence. The data is also essential for
planning for future services that are aimed at preventing the occurrence of a disease.
Health care workers constitute a wide range of professionals, support personnel, and
technical staff working in diverse settings. Assisted living facilities, skilled nursing facilities, and
nursing homes offer a number of services both personal and medical care, to individuals that are
incapable of independently managing themselves in the community. Millions of patients reside
in, or are admitted in skilled nursing settings and nursing homes annually.
Therefore, it is necessary that these healthcare practitioners identify the number of
services requisite to care for patients when planning health services. Since incident occurrences
are not the best option, prevalence becomes of more value when measuring the necessity of
services. Information collected based on prevalence help in identifying areas that healthcare
practitioners should give more attention.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle demands dedication and persistence and does not go
without reward. Lifestyle choices often improve a person’s health in almost every aspect with its
benefits having far-reaching effects that extend even past the low-risk diseases. Smoking is one
of the lifestyle choices that have been projected to have a major impact on the future health
needs. Smoking weakens the immune system exposing smokers to the risk of developing
respiratory disorders (O’Leary et al., 2014). Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis
and Crohn’s disease have been linked to smoking. Research has further indicated that about 35%
of smokers have higher chances of developing type II diabetes and other cardiovascular disorders
like myocardial infection. In addition, smoking decreases bone density; hence, it predisposes an
individual to the risk of developing osteoporosis a condition that is common among older women
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and smoking men. A person’s diet has an impact on physical health which as a result can
destabilize mental health.
On the same note, consumption of alcohol is also one of the lifestyle choices that could
have an impact on future needs for health and social care services. According to O’Keefe et al.
(2014), alcohol is likely to cause both stomach and liver problems to humans. However, it is
difficult to control the consumption of alcohol. The reason is because there is no aggressive
government campaigns tailored towards reducing the consumption of alcohol. This could impact
the future needs for health and social care services in that it will increase the number of patients
having liver problems because of heavy consumption of alcohol.
Similarly, consumption of foods with high fat content, processed foods, and low nutrient
value foods are catalysts of health deterioration. Consumption of junk food has increased
especially in urban areas which result in health deterioration. This type of lifestyle will impact
the future of health and social services in that the number of people with obesity and heart
diseases will increase. Inactivity has also been proven to be among the leading determinants that
lead to chronic illnesses such as obesity, hypertension, and heart failure. Physical Exercises not
only control an individual’s weight, but also the physical health. Moreover, physical exercises
provide protective benefits to mental health. In fact, some studies have revealed that physical
exercise is an effective intervention that is as popular as common antidepressant agents.
However, eating fibrous legumes along fresh fruits and vegetables daily boosts the
immune system. Moreover, foodstuffs such as yoghurt have probiotics aid in strengthening the
digestive system as well as other conditions that affect the gut. Health care providers’ often
advice people to exercise healthy behaviors that aid in prevention and management of a number
of chronic conditions. However, there are people who are not prepared to embark on these
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effective, healthy changes. Having enough sleep helps the body in maintaining the sleep-wake
cycle which improves physical and mental health; hence, making it easier to tackle an illness.
Drinking alcohol also has some dire effects on a person’s well-being. For instance, it interferes
with the communication pathways in the brain changing mood, behavior, and affects proper
thinking. Alcohol drinking is associated with a number of cardiac disorders such as stroke,
hypertension, and arrhythmias (O’Keefe et al., 2014). Chronic drinking has been reported to
cause liver damage resulting in cirrhosis. In addition, the immune system of drunkards is
weakened by alcohol; therefore, they are easy targets for diseases.
If one is struggling with an illness, or is trying to help a loved one regain his/her health, it
becomes easy for them to feel overwhelmed due to the endless collection of treatment options.
There are quite a number of health and wellbeing priorities that organizations need to put in
place to make the organization better oriented to cater for the patients. One such priority is
promoting better and healthy diets. Such priorities will help make people healthier thus making
the care of health setting more attractive. On the same note, organizations can promote home
based exercises that will help reduce the prevalence of obesity and other health problems such as
heart diseases. Many people in the society are not in a position to access gym frequently, thus
home based exercise will be more ideal.
In the case of individuals with mental illness, some priorities can be used to improve the
well-being of an individual. Diet is one of the priorities for persons in this category. A study by
Deckelbaum & Torrejon (2012) proved that healthy fats such as omega-6, omega-3, and fat
found in avocados can improve mood and boost brain power. Such individuals also require
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safety against any kind of abuse whether psychological, sexual, or physical which makes it
nearly impossible to attain sound mental health.
Another category is that of persons with HIV/AIDS. These patients should insist on
taking e fresh vegetables and fruits, lean protein, and whole grain which help them to be strong,
support their immune system, and have more energy. They should also be immunized against
infections such as flu and pneumonia. The vaccines should not be made of live vaccines that can
further endanger the life of the patients. Volunteer work and engaging in some religious
activities are some social practices that provide a level of socialization that makes patients feel
comfortable. According to Livingston et al (2013), isolated persons have high chances of
struggling with mental health issues which in turn affects the entire physiological functioning of
a person. Personal hygiene is one of the most effective ways that these patients can use to not
only protect themselves, but from other diseases as well. This means washing hands, careful
coughing and sneezing, proper disposal of material, and using protection such as gloves or
condoms when there is risk of acquiring an infection.
There are quite a number of strategies that can be utilized in order to form better qualities
and habits within peoples way of life. Once such strategies, systems, and policies are
implemented in the health and care setting it result on different benefits such as; better customer
attraction by improving the health care setting. On the same note, improving the workplace will
lead to cultivation of good reputation making the facility better off as compared to other
companies. Better strategies, systems and policies will also result in stakeholder attractiveness.
On the same note, proper strategies, systems and policies could also result in employee loyalty
and make the organization employ and retain talent. Organizations are using customized care
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that is in tandem with the needs and choices of a patient. This strategy acknowledges that each
patient is special and may have varying needs and preferences. This strategy is beneficial since it
makes the patient’s environment comfortable and allows the individuality of the patient, which is
a vital component of care. However, patients might at times request some undesirable
interventions such as requesting for music which could suite him/her but then distracts other
patients. Therefore, it is evident that maintaining better strategies, systems and policies could
result to positive influences to the company.
There are several strategies that have been documented to have a major impact not only
on how well individuals live but also on how long they are likely to live. One of the key changes
is attitude change which should occur so as to improve the health and wellbeing. Attitudes,
especially concerning the elderly and children must be improved as they have a huge impact on
organizational health care setting. Maintaining a good diet with low saturated fats is also
important to improve the health and well-being of patients. Several persons who live long have
testified to not drinking alcohol or doing it moderately. High coffee consumption results in high
levels of cholesterol. However, there are people whose benefits of coffee consumption outweigh
the risk of getting cholesterol since coffee is linked to lower rates of cancer and diabetes (Crippa
et al., 2014). People should also be advised to engage in some physical exercise which aids in
improving the pumping activity of the heart and maintaining ideal weight. Education programs
should be implemented to sensitize the public on the importance of vaccination which protects
the general public against preventable diseases. Vaccination is an effective intervention since it is
cheaper compared to treating the real disease; hence, it should be embraced by the public.
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Provision of education is one of the interventions that have been used to encourage
behavior change. Education programs can inspire behavior change especially when the education
uses proven behavior change theories, and targets a specific population. If people are sensitized
to embrace health behavior changes that aid in avoiding chronic diseases such as asthma and
obesity, they can prolong their lifespan and improve their quality of life.
Physical exercise also helps in shedding excess weight. Health care providers have
encouraged people to go for a morning jog at least thrice a week or ride a bike to work. This is a
cost-effective intervention that safeguards an individual from a wide range of diseases. Programs
have also been put in place to advise the public to engage in healthy activities. Some of the
activities that have been discouraged by these programs include smoking, drinking alcohol, and
engaging in unprotected sex.
Public health services should be viewed as part of the social safety net that is the
government’s responsibility to offer to the people. Public health agencies are charged with the
responsibility of developing effective and innovative health programs supported by research-
driven questions. These agencies should identify and regulate the sources of risk and execute
health and safety practices such as regulating air and water quality and licensing health facilities
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Crippa, A. et al (2014). Coffee consumption and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular
disease, and cancer: a dose-response meta-analysis. American journal of epidemiology,
Deckelbaum, R. J., & Torrejon, C. (2012). The omega-3 fatty acid nutritional landscape: health
benefits and sources. The Journal of nutrition, 142(3), 587S-591S.
Demicheli, V. et al (2013). Cochrane in context: Vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella in
children. Evidence‐Based Child Health: A Cochrane Review Journal, 8(6), 2239-2242.
Kitson, A. et al (2013). What are the core elements of patient‐centered care? A narrative review
and synthesis of the literature from health policy, medicine and nursing. Journal of
Advanced Nursing, 69(1), 4-15.
Livingston, J. D. et al (2013). Evaluation of a campaign to improve awareness and attitudes of
young people towards mental health issues. Social psychiatry and psychiatric
epidemiology, 48(6), 965-973.
O’Keefe, J. H. et al (2014, March). Alcohol and cardiovascular health: the dose makes the
poison… or the remedy. In Mayo Clinic Proceedings (Vol. 89, No. 3, pp. 382-393).
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O’Leary, S. M. et al (2014). Cigarette smoking impairs human pulmonary immunity to
Mycobacterium tuberculosis. American journal of respiratory and critical care
medicine, 190(12), 1430-1436.
Pratt, M., & Wood, M. (Eds.). (2015). Art therapy in palliative care: The creative response.
Van der Linde, R. M. et al (2013). Self-rated health and cardiovascular disease incidence: results
from a longitudinal population-based cohort in Norfolk, UK. PLoS One, 8(6), e65290.
World Health Organization. (2014). Global status report on alcohol and health, 2014.