“The art and science of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through the organised efforts of society” 

Acheson WHO, 1988. 

Public health aims to promote and protect the health of the whole population. Public health focuses on the prevention of ill health.  A healthy population is an asset to society.  

Everyone has an important role in looking after their own health.  However, many of the factors that influence our health outcomes are outside the control of the individual, such as environmental, economic and social factors. Factors such as where we live, learn, work and play all influence health, as well as the opportunity to make healthy choices. And inequities in these factors can create health inequality.  

Health equity, giving everyone a chance to reach their potential to live a healthier life, is a core aim of public health and the primary focus of the Institute of Public Health. 

The Institute works across sectors to address the wider determinants of health to prevent illness and promote health.  


Professionals working in public health


Professionals working in public health try to prevent problems from happening and promote wellness by encouraging healthy behaviours.  

This can mean informing and creating policies to support healthier populations; monitoring the health status of the population; implementing educational programmes;  or working to create the conditions in which people can be healthy. 

Depending on their role, professionals working in public health perform a range of different tasks, including; 

  • Researching and monitoring the health status of a population to identify potential health problems and solutions 
  • Developing policies and frameworks that support health efforts 
  • Educating, informing and empowering people about health issues, particularly those who are vulnerable or at risk 
  • Mobilising and connecting partnerships to collectively reduce health problems and inequalities.