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Responsibilities of Public Health

Prevent epidemics and the spread of disease: This is the classic role of public health, although each time it is invoked there is a need to re-negotiate the balance between community protection, social justice and individual autonomy.

Protect against environmental hazards: The limitation of hazardous exposure in the first place is one of the basic approaches of public health.

Prevent injury: The application of Epidemiology to understanding risk factors and the causes of intended and unintended injuries has allowed organized programs to reduce traffic death and injury, occupational injury, food-borne epidemics and other injuries.

Promote healthy behavior: Respecting the autonomy of individuals, it is appropriate to provide education, support and encouragement for for adoption of healthier decisions, actions and lifestyles.

Respond to disasters and assist in recovery: Any disaster markedly increases public health risk by disrupting food, water, medical services and other support systems.

Assure access to health services: This responsibility has become ever more important as the cost of personal care has risen and the numbers of uninsured and underinsured has increased.

Every community should expect that these responsibilities are being fulfilled on a regular, reliable basis, by some combination of entities.

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