The Limits of Public Health: A Response
Public Health Ethics, Vol .2, pp. 84-88, 2009
5 Pages Posted: 29 Sep 2009
Date Written: September 28, 2009
In an article published in 2002, Rethinking the Meaning of Public Health (Rothstein, 2002), I criticized the growing trend in the public health literature and professional discourse of considering human rights violations, economic inequalities, health disparities and numerous other social problems as public health issues. Although recognizing the importance of addressing these issues aggressively and immediately, I asserted that the remediation of a wide range of political, economic and social conditions was beyond the jurisdiction, expertise and mandate of public health officials and public health professionals. I wrote about my concern that by claiming such a vast social agenda public health scholars and officials risked undermining their scientific credibility and popular support to perform in their traditional public health roles, such as sanitation, immunization and controlling infectious disease. I advocated a narrow efinition of public health based on the legal authority granted to public health agencies.
Keywords: Public health, population health, human rights
JEL Classification: k31, k32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation