Public Health Foundation of India
Public health has often been defined as a science dealing with the determinants and defense of health at the population level, while clinical medicine deals with multiple maladies and their remedies at the level of the individual patient. Public health thus aims to elucidate and influence the social determinants of health as well as to study and structure health systems as efficient channels for delivery of health services.
As India experiences a rapid health transition, it is confronted both by an unfinished agenda of infectious diseases, nutritional deficiencies and unsafe pregnancies as well as the challenge of escalating epidemics of non-communicable diseases. This composite threat to the nation’s health and development needs a concerted public health response that can ensure efficient delivery of cost-effective interventions for health promotion, disease prevention and affordable diagnostic and therapeutic health care.
These health challenges urgently require capacity building for health research, policy development and analysis, programme development and evaluation, health systems organization, models of health care financing and operationalized scientific research. Education and training in public health need to be inter-disciplinary in content so that the pathways of public health action are multi-sectoral. Public health education must include subject areas like epidemiology, biostatistics, behavioral sciences, health economics, health services management, environmental health, health inequities and human rights, gender and health, health communication, ethics of health care and research. The interventions proposed need to be evidence based, context specific and resource sensitive.
Genesis of PHFI
The Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) is a public private partnership that has collaboratively evolved through consultations with multiple constituencies including Indian and international academia, state and central governments, multi & bi-lateral agencies and civil society groups. PHFI is a response to redress the limited institutional capacity in India for strengthening training, research and policy development in the area of Public Health.
Structured as an independent foundation, PHFI adopts a broad, integrative approach to public health, tailoring its endeavours to Indian conditions and bearing relevance to countries facing similar challenges and concerns. The PHFI focuses on broad dimensions of public health that encompass promotive, preventive and therapeutic services, many of which are frequently lost sight of in policy planning as well as in popular understanding.
The Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh, launched PHFI on March 28, 2006 at New Delhi. PHFI recognizes the fact that meeting the shortfall of health professionals is imperative to a sustained and holistic response to the public health concerns in the country which in turn requires health care to be addressed not only from the scientific perspective of what works, but also from the social perspective of, who needs it the most.