Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics   |  October 9, 2011

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Healthcare and public health are typically conceptualized as separate, albeit overlapping, systems. Healthcare’s goal is the improvement of individual patient outcomes through the provision of medical services. In contrast, public health is devoted to improving health outcomes in the population as a whole through health promotion and disease prevention. Healthcare services receive the bulk of funding and political support, while public health is chronically starved of resources. In order to reduce morbidity and mortality, policymakers must shift their attention to public health services and to the improved integration of health care and public health. In other words, health care and public health should be treated as two parts of a single integrated health system (which we refer to as the health system throughout this article). Furthermore, in order to maximize improvements in health status, policymakers must consider the impact of all governmental policies on health (a Health in All Policies Approach).

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