Essential Public Health Functions
A Three-country Study in the Western Pacific Region
Public health is a core element of governments' attempts to improve and promote the health and welfare of their citizens. Unfortunately, there is evidence that current public health systems and services are not able to cope well with the modern challenges - new technologies, globalization, migration, bioterrorism, etc. In view of this, the WHO Western Pacific Region initiated studies on essential public health functions (EPHFs) in Fiji, Malaysia, and Vietnam. By drawing on research in other parts of the world, a framework and nine EPHFs were derived for these case studies. These nine EPHFs define more clearly and systematically the core areas of public health work for which governments are ultimately responsible. These EPHFs are also considered appropriate for further consultation and use in the Western Pacific Region.
This publication is aimed at providing EPHF concepts and ideas that will help countries ensure that they develop and sustain a comprehensive approach to public health. The case studies may also provide ideas for other countries on methods that could be used to examine the current functioning of EPHFs and on different approaches for strengthening these essential functions in different health systems.