What is Public Health

What is Public Health:

Public Health is the set of measures carried out by the State to guarantee the physical, mental and social well-being of the population.

At the international level, public health is coordinated by the World Health Organization – WHO, currently composed of 194 countries. The body consists of a specialized agency of the United Nations (United Nations) that works side by side with the government of the countries to improve the prevention and treatment of diseases, in addition to improving the quality of air, water and food.

In addition to the political-administrative context, public health is also the branch of science that seeks to prevent and treat diseases through the analysis of health indicators and their application in the fields of biology, epidemiology and other related fields.

In Brazil, public health is provided for in the Federal Constitution as a duty of the State (article 196) and as a social right (article 6), that is, a right that must be guaranteed homogeneously to individuals in order to ensure the exercise fundamental rights.

In order to guarantee this right, the Federal Constitution attributed to the Union, the States, the Federal District and the municipalities the competence to take care of public health. This means that, within a single system, each sphere of government will have a body responsible for executing and administering services for local health.

It is worth mentioning that the 1988 Constitution was the first to treat health as a political agenda. Before it, there was no legislation that would subject the Government to invest in the area.

Health Unic System

The Unified Health System – SUS, was created by the Federal Constitution of 1988 and is regulated by Law No. 8,080 / 90 (Organic Health Law), which defines it as follows:

” The set of health actions and services, provided by federal, state and municipal public bodies and institutions, of the direct and indirect Administration and of the foundations maintained by the Public Power, constitutes the Unified Health System (SUS).”

P ortanto, the S ystem Health Care consists of all measures carried out directly or indirectly by the state to improve the health public .

SUS is financed by social security resources from all federal entities and has the following guidelines :


To serve all regions of the country in a way directed to local needs, SUS is divided into regional bodies with administrative power. At the national level, SUS administration takes place through the Ministry of Health . In the states, Federal District and municipalities, the administration is in charge of the Health Secretariats , or equivalent bodies.


SUS must serve all individuals, without distinction of any kind. In addition, the service must emphasize preventive activities (awareness campaigns, vaccines, etc.) without this implying coverage of treatments and curative measures.

Community participation

People’s participation must take place through health councils and conferences in which the population can vote and decide which health issues should be prioritized.

Principles of public health

Public health in Brazil revolves around the following principles provided for in the Health Organization Law:

  • universal access to health services at all levels of care
  • integrality of assistance
  • preservation of people’s autonomy in the defense of their physical and moral integrity
  • equality of health care
  • right to information, to assisted persons, about their health
  • disclosure of information
  • using epidemiology to establish priorities
  • community participation
  • political-administrative decentralization, mainly in the municipalities
  • integration between health, environment and basic sanitation
  • combination of resources from the Union, the States, the Federal District and the Municipalities
  • ability to resolve services at all levels of assistance
  • organization of specific and specialized public care for women and victims of domestic violence in general, which guarantees, among others, care, psychological counseling and reparative plastic surgery

With the exception of the last principle (which was inserted in the law only in 2017), these are the bases of public health in the country since 1990, when the Organic Health Law came into force.


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