The primary mission of institutions charged with protecting the public health is to contain outbreaks and to prevent epidemics associated with infectious disease. The first order of business in the public health regime is to isolate and study the various pathogens that pose such a threat to society, in order to determine the most effective means of prevention and containment. Through research, essential characteristics of the disease can be determined. Through analysis, options for intervention are continually reviewed, tested, and revised with an eye toward the development of prophylactic measures, treatment, and medicines, as part of the array of intervention methods at the disposal of public health professionals. In addition to the biological and infrastructural investigations conducted, committees, divisions, and departments are established for the purpose of interdepartmental communication and coordination engaged in developing appropriate legislation, budgets, and operational manuals for all the ancillary public agencies necessarily involved in implementing the mission of public health administration.
In the body politic, social pathogens of aggression that surface in the form of such things as racism, fascism, homophobia, and xenophobia can be viewed and approached in a similar manner. Each of these ideological cancers have origins, histories, distinct characteristics, and can be studied, monitored, and analyzed asking the same basic questions used by the Centers for Disease Control and the Institutes for Public Health:
- Where does it come from?
- What conditions allow it to prosper?
- How is it transmitted?
- What is its life cycle?
- What causes it to become dormant?
- Can it be eradicated?
Through such a methodical approach to understanding social pathogens, we are best able to mobilize with economy and effectiveness the resources available. Beginning our quest for human dignity with an attitude of respect for the process and results of research and analysis enables us to avoid inappropriate responses to outbreaks while we advance our pooled knowledge and experience.
(Read more about the Public Health Model.)