Reference Module in Biomedical Sciences  |  October 31, 2023

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Government’s principal obligation is to ensure the health and welfare of its population. It does so through the enactment and enforcement of laws designed to create the conditions necessary for all members of society to lead healthy, safe lives. This article explores the ways in which law can be used as a tool for improving the health of a society by creating public health authorities, defining their powers, and denoting the means by which those powers can be used. Beyond regulating health care, public health law can be used to address the underlying social determinants of health; the contexts in which people live, learn, work, and play. In addition, the authors offer a definition of public health law, focusing on the characteristics that make it different from other areas of law.

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