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An Ounce of Prevention: Why Investments in Public Health Are Essential

Ian Culbert

Ian Culbert

Executive Director, Canadian Public Health Association

The current COVID-19 global pandemic has shone a spotlight on federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal public health services. Efforts to control infectious diseases are an essential public health responsibility, but they’re only one aspect of what public health professionals do every day to help improve your overall health and well-being.

The primary focus of public health is protecting and improving communities’ health. This population health approach identifies and reduces health threats through policies on issues such as infection control, food safety, support for children, poverty, housing, sanitation, substance use, and the environment.

Public health isn’t the same as the publicly-funded health care system. While public health focuses on keeping people healthy, it typically receives less than 10% of the total health care budget. As the current pandemic has shown us, when public health is underfunded and unable to respond at full capacity, the economic, human, and political costs are enormous.

Public health is the frontline defence for your health and well-being at the local, provincial/territorial, and federal levels. If you value your health and well-being, then tell your elected officials to invest in public health.  

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