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What is public health? 

 
Public Health protects and improves the health of communities through education, promotion of healthy lifestyles, and research for disease and injury prevention. 
While health care systems (like the Indian Health Service hospitals and clinics) serve the individual patient, public health serves the community.
 
Public health professionals study the effect of personal choice and the environment on health, in order to develop programs that protect the health of families and communities.
Many professionals are part of the Tribal Public Health System—from health education teachers and nutritionists, to emergency personnel and researchers. In public health, everyone plays a role when they are helping to keep our Native communities safe, clean and free of disease.
 
Overall, public health is concerned with protecting the health of entire populations. These populations can be as small as a local neighborhood, or as big as a Tribe or state.
 
Public health professionals try to prevent problems from happening or re-occurring through implementing educational programs, developing policies, administering services, regulating health systems, and conducting research, in contrast to clinical professionals, such as doctors and nurses, who focus primarily on treating individuals after they become sick or injured. Public health is a field that also is concerned with limiting health disparities and ensuring that all people have access to quality health care.
 

Why is Public Health Important to Indian Country?

 
A healthy Native community gets sick less frequently and spends less money on health care; this means better economic productivity and an improved quality of life for the Tribe. Statistics show that Indian Country continues to lag behind other communities in basic resources and services. This means our communities are more vulnerable to health risks and sickness. While advocating for improvements in resources and services, we can reduce our risks of illness and disease by supporting and advancing public health programs in our communities.
NATIONAL INDIAN HEALTH BOARD
910 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE . Washington, DC 20003    Phone: 202.507.4070   Fax: 202.507.4071
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What is Public Health?