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MPH502-Introduction to Public Health (Module 3 CBT) - Essay Example

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The author, L.O Gostin in an article entitled “Public health law in a new century: part I: law as a tool to advance the community’s health” has put forward five basic features that any effective public health law should posses in order to be really effective in improving…
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MPH502-Introduction to Public Health (Module 3 CBT)
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Which Public Health core functions are principally addressed by the The L.O Gostin in an article en d “Public health law in a newcentury: part I: law as a tool to advance the community’s health” has put forward five basic features that any effective public health law should posses in order to be really effective in improving public health in a perceptible manner. These features are:
The primary responsibility of remaining secured against public health risks and improving the standard of public health should lie with the Government.
The emphasis should be on prevention and be relevant to the population sought to be protected with a clear perception of the specific risks that particular population is most exposed to.
Clear guidelines must be laid down as to the nature of relationship between the government and the population that is being protected.
The mission statement, core areas and functions of the public health system must be unequivocally laid down in any law that is enacted with reference to public health.
The powers of government to coerce, if necessary, individuals, public health professionals and businesses operating in the public health sector to act in a manner that is deemed necessary at that particular instance. (Gostin, 2000)
Summary of these five essential characteristics
Primary responsibility of public health rests with the Government
Right from the early days of industrial revolution, substantial portions of rural population together with migrants coming in search of work from other countries flocked to cities and towns that resulted in overcrowding, slum conditions and squalor with the associated problems of garbage, sewage, pollution and unclean drinking water that had negative impact on public health. Citizens quite rightly veered round to the opinion that control of diseases and maintenance of public health should fall in the public domain of governmental responsibility and there should be relevant laws and regulations that would ensure each citizen gets the chance to lead a healthy life with government being responsible to provide all the necessary amenities and maintain decent standards of public health. Governments of both industrialized and developing countries have since then passed numerous legislations in this regard and public health is quite rightly now firmly entrenched in the domain of public authority and public administration. Neither the governments nor the citizens deny that the primary responsibility of public health rests with the government of the country.
Emphasis should be on prevention
Public health professionals quite obviously desire that there should be progressively larger allocation of funds towards prevention of diseases rather than fighting them when they threaten to go out of hand and become a matter of serious concern. Prevention, as the saying goes, is always better than cure. But in the political climate prevailing in late and middle 1990s it was becoming increasingly difficult for public health professionals to emphasize the importance of prevention as some of the law makers were of the opinion that the threat to public health was made to look more sinister than it actually was. Though there might be some instances of such overdrive, one agrees wholeheartedly with the author’s concern about prevention of a disease before it snowballs into a public health crisis. (Gostin L. O., 2002)
Clear guidelines as to the nature of relationship between government and public
Public health basically aims at reducing diseases and maintaining health of the targeted population. But there is always a scope of conflict in an understanding of issues as to whether they fall in private domains of individuals or in the public domain of governmental intervention. There have been numerous court cases in this regard and one of the most referred to is Jacobson v Massachusetts where the court had to decide whether government had the right to compulsorily vaccinate an individual with small pox antidote. (Gostin L. O., Jacobson v Massachussets at 100 years: police power and civil liberties in tension , 2005) Thus, for the sake of public health laws to be really effective, one totally agrees that there should be unequivocal guidelines in the relationship between the government and the public.
Mission statement, core areas and functions of the public health system must be unequivocally laid down
Just as it is necessary to clearly demarcate the domains of private rights and governmental duties, it is also necessary to incorporate in public health legislations the mission statement, core areas and primary functions of the public health system in as clear and concise terms as possible. This will prevent many future legal wrangles and bureaucratic attempts at shifting responsibilities especially in the event of any major public health crisis. There can be no to opinions in this regard and the author is absolutely right in including this aspect among the five major requirements of public health legislation.
Powers of government to coerce, if necessary, individuals, public health professionals and businesses operating in the public health sector to act in a manner that is deemed necessary at that particular instance
Public health programs focus on achieving the maximum good for the largest number of people and thus the emphasis is on protecting the population as a whole rather than respecting private rights of individuals. The issue comes under sharp focus when one has to deal with a person infected with communicable disease and needs to be quarantined so as to not jeopardize any further the prevailing public health status. According to Section 2A of Illinois Department of Public Health Act (20ILC523051), the health department has "supreme authority in matters of quarantine" and "may order a person to be quarantined … until such time as the condition can be corrected". Similar legislation exists in Canada too. Though applied rarely, such legislation had to be invoked in some stray cases of HIV infected persons who went about having unprotected sex in spite of being aware of their HIV positive status thereby endangering public health. (Soskolne & Sieswerda, 2002) Every right thinking individual will wholeheartedly agree that curtailment of individual rights is absolutely necessary if such curtailment leads to greater common good.
References
Gostin, L. O. (2005). Jacobson v Massachussets at 100 years: police power and civil liberties in tension . Am J Public Health 95 (4) , 576-581.
Gostin, L. O. (2002). Public Health Law and Ethics: A Reader. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Gostin, L. O. (2000, JUNE 7). Public health law in a new century: part I: law as a tool to advance the communitys health. Retrieved November 18, 2009, from PubMed.gov: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10838654
Soskolne, C. L., & Sieswerda, L. E. (2002). Ethics of Public Health. In Encyclopedia of Public Health. Farmington Hills, Michigan: Gale Group Inc. Read More
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