What is the Role of Public Health in a Pandemic?

Political borders foster a false sense of security, creating the illusion that what happens on one side of the line cannot impact events on the other side. The spread of coronavirus has made clear what public health workers always knew: when it comes to infectious disease, we’re all in this together.

The role of public health in a situation like the current pandemic is to simply save lives. They do so by raising awareness of the dangers, promoting interventions such as masks and social distancing, and advising leaders at the local, state, national, and international levels.

Learning the role of public health in a pandemic is one facet of an online MS in Health Sciences degree program. Master’s program graduates enter the workforce well equipped to apply their knowledge to better manage a pandemic outbreak.

A Health Promotion Model for Public Health

While public health workers work year-round to promote healthy habits and provide quality care in often underserved communities, public health programs take center stage during a pandemic.

Most expect heads of state to lead during a pandemic. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) notes that a “whole-of-society approach” works best. To achieve that goal, WHO writes that public health workers must cooperate with and support national leaders. That includes giving guidance on actions needed to slow the spread of the pandemic and raising awareness among the public about potential health consequences.

Touro University Worldwide’s online MS in Health Sciences with a public health concentration teaches a health promotion model for public health. That model involves assessment, implementation, integration, and evaluation. Students learn the role of public health in a pandemic including:

  • Assessing the social and economic impact of a pandemic on individuals and communities
  • Providing reliable information on the risk susceptibility, severity, and progression of a pandemic
  • Identifying effective forms of interventions
  • Prioritizing and continuing support of health care workers
  • Enacting steps to reduce the spread of the pandemic in the community and in health care facilities

Providing Public Health at the Local Level

Most people link public health with national figures such as Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx. However, the most impactful work happens at the local level where public officials work closely with individuals, families, and communities.

Local public health workers protect communities from exposure and slow the pandemic’s spread. Professionals in the field develop and activate outbreak response emergency plans. Public health workers serve as experts, advising city and county leaders. They also track cases, conduct investigations, manage contract tracing, and put isolation and quarantine protocols into place.

Public officials oversee clinics that serve large segments of the population. In the case of the coronavirus, they have managed public testing centers, including drive-through testing.

They also work in health education, teaching the public about steps they can take to protect themselves and their families. Working as a community health educator is one of the many careers that those who earn an MS in Health Sciences can pursue.

Touro University Worldwide prepares graduates to take on the role of public health in a pandemic. Students leave the program ready to make a difference not just for individuals, but entire communities.

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