Exclusive Commentary: Put Public Health in Hospitals

A mother and child, pictured at India Gandhi Hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Image credit
UN Photo/Fardin Waezi.

A public health department should be introduced in hospitals all over the world.

Public health specialists could counsel people in the surrounding community (including patients and their caregivers) about preventive measures for maintaining good health. This effort would help people understand the importance of prevention and how it can save them from major diseases.

During visits for a regular checkup or a simple fever, patients and their caregivers at high risk can be advised by public health specialists about preventive measures. For example, most cases of cardiac disease develop due to a poor diet and sedentary lifestyle. Too often people ignore the symptoms and avoid visiting a doctor. If such cases are detected early on during, say, a routine hospital visit, public health specialists could help people from developing serious conditions. Instead of encouraging people to eat better and exercise after a cardiac disease diagnosis, why not help people when they are still relatively healthy?

Having public health departments embedded in hospitals could also provide better epidemic prevention and response, resulting in fewer casualties and less panic. Doctors and public health specialists working together under the umbrella of hospitals can lift a huge burden of diseases off our society and our health budget.

—Sarah Tanvir, MBBS, MPH, is a teaching assistant at Armed Forces Post Graduates Medical Institute, Pakistan.

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