DEFINITION AND PURPOSE
A definition of the practice of public health which suits my present purpose and will stand on its merits under the circumstances is: The application of the sciences of preventive medicine through government for social ends. The public health is but a convenient expression of the collective health of the members of the community, the social aggregation of families or households under some civil government jurisdiction.Medicine and biology created a precedent when about a hundred years ago they entered on a career as servants of government, with functions defined by statute law and supported by tax revenues. For the first time the sanitary protection and health status of man and his wife and children became an object of the official solicitude of statesmen and of local government. Persons and their well-being as well as the safety of their material possessions and property were to be protected.
EMERSON H. PURPOSE, CONTENT AND METHODS OF TEACHING PUBLIC HEALTH TO MEDICAL STUDENTS. JAMA. 1941;116(11):1040-1044. doi:10.1001/jama.1941.02820110004002