What is public health? Perspectives, ethics, and values

This course questions the norms of public health practices and the ethical implication to such practices. 

This course aims at introducing students to understanding and examining public health by interrogating what is​‘public’ and​‘health’. It would help students appreciate why values of equity, social justice and human rights are intrinsic to public health and its implication on public health practice. 

It encourages students to engage with questions: What does a population/​community orientation (contrasted with an individualised orientation in clinical medicine) of public health entail? Why do values matter in public health? Who is responsible for public health – state, society, individual? What does​‘health’ in public health entail? How do we situate the tension between focus on disease-centred care and comprehensive health and wellbeing (physical, mental, and social wellbeing) that includes preventive, promotive and rehabilitative care in public health? 

How do we address and resolve fundamental conflicting ethical principles/​values that affect public health practice and decision making (For example, individual freedom vs common good, market vs social justice, equity vs efficiency)? How is health situated in the broader development imagination of Indian society? What are some of the defining moments in history that have informed our understanding of what public health is and what are their implications in contemporary contexts?