Guardians of the Public's Health

Public Health Basics

"The distinguishing feature of the public health perspective is that it focuses on populations - assessing and monitoring health problems, informing the public and professionals about health issues, developing and enforcing health protecting laws and regulations, implementing and evaluating population based strategies to promote health and prevent disease, and assuring the provisions of essential health services."  ( - page3)

For those new to public health here are some free basic resources that provide an important background for the public health community.

Overview: The course Principles of Public Health - The Mission, Core Functions and Ten Essential Services provides fundamental background information.  It is available at

Public Health Law:  Organized governmental agencies have internationally recognized duties and powers that must be understood by all Public Health Physicians.  These two lectures for an AAPHP educational session "Public Health Law and the 10 Essentials Services" discusses some of these fundamentals -  Another resource is here:

Public Health Ethics:  Public Health Physicians must understand how and when to use the police power and information they have.  "Good Decision Making in Real Time: Practical Public Health Ethics for Local Health Officials"  from the CDC and NACCHO provides 2.0 CME and is available at  A UNC course also provides an excellent overview of the subject at

Public Health Epidemiology:   Epidemiology is an important tool to getting the information needed to make good decisions and recommend control measures.  This classic book  "Principles of Epidemiology in Public Health Practice, Third Edition (Print-based)" provides the fundamentals

Economics:  An understanding of economics helps public health physicians understand why individuals and society make certain decisions. Here is the CDC page - and here is a basic tutorial related to health care -

Health Disparities: Public Health Physicians serve the entire population. Unfortunately some portions of the population are more in need of our  special expertise and attention because of factors beyond their control .  This webcast on the "Social Determinants of Health Disparities" provides insight into some of the root causes of these significant disparities.

Risk Communication Introduction from Peter Sandman and Primer from ATSDR


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