County of Marin Health and Human Services

Public Health

What is Public Health?

Public health refers to the science and practice of protecting and improving the health of communities and populations. It involves efforts aimed at preventing disease, promoting healthy lifestyles, and prolonging life among groups of people rather than focusing on individual health and clinical care.

Key aspects of public health include:

  • Disease Prevention and Control: Public health initiatives focus on preventing the spread of diseases, through vaccination programs, health education, and the monitoring of outbreaks.
  • Health Promotion: This involves promoting healthy behaviors and lifestyle choices within communities, such as encouraging exercise, proper nutrition, and the avoidance of tobacco and substance abuse.
  • Health Equity: Public health aims to remove barriers that prevent some people from reaching their full health potential. It means that individuals and communities have equal access to resources and opportunities needed for good health, regardless of their social or economic status, race, gender, or other characteristics.
  • Health Policy and Management: Public health professionals often work on policy initiatives and healthcare management to improve access to quality healthcare, health equity, and overall health systems.
  • Community Health Education: Educating communities about health risks and how to prevent diseases is a crucial part of public health efforts.
  • Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance: Epidemiologists study the patterns, causes, and effects of diseases within populations, while disease surveillance involves tracking and monitoring diseases to prevent their spread.
  • Public Health Preparedness and Response: This includes planning, training, and having systems in place to respond effectively to various crises, such as disease outbreaks, natural disasters, or other public health emergencies. This readiness ensures that public health agencies and communities can act quickly and efficiently to protect people's health and safety when unexpected situations occur.
  • Environmental Health: Public health professionals address environmental factors that can impact health, such as air and water quality, and impacts from climate change.  For Marin County, Environmental Health is managed by our Community Development Agency.  Click here to learn more about Environmental Health Services.

Public health is a multidisciplinary field that involves collaboration among health professionals, policymakers, community leaders, and the public to create and implement strategies that enhance overall health and well-being in societies.


The Division of Public Health is a Local Health Department authorized under Part 3 of Division 101 of the California Health and Safety Code (Health and Safety Code §§ 101000 – 101500).