No matter our city, suburb or street, we all deserve to be able to live in healthy environments and environmental conditions.
What is public health?
Public Health is about ensuring that the places and spaces where we live, learn, work and play contribute to good health. We should all have the same opportunities for healthy living, working and social conditions that support good health. That means the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the houses we live in, the streets we pass through, the places we work and go to school, and the communities we live in provide the conditions that make good health accessible.
To ensure this happens in all our communities, we need strong public health systems in place. Public health work is diverse and often behind the scenes or invisible. It focuses on the things that are outside individual control but affect our ability to live a full and healthy life.
Rather than trying to fix disease and disability once it has happened, public health action aims to create environments and conditions that prevent harm and support health and wellbeing in the first place.
We know that most health is influenced by the communities and environments in which we live. Healthcare makes only a small contribution to the health of the people in the Southern District. So while healthcare is important to those who already have disease or disability, working at a community and environmental level to increase health is really important too. Both approaches are needed.
As an example, advocating for a network of safe cycle ways for commuters improves health through people enjoying improved air quality from less car emissions, increased road safety, increased physical activity and reduced stress. The cascade of effects means reduced risk of respiratory disease, cancers, disability and chronic diseases.
Public health takes an evidence-informed approach to building healthy communities and environments. These activities are delivered in partnership with a range of groups and organisations. Public health activities from within the health service are led by Public Health South, as part of the Southern DHB.