Epidemiology is a study and analysis of the distribution, patterns, and determinants of health and disease conditions in defined populations or how often diseases occur in different groups of people and why. Epidemiology is an integral part of a disease’s basic understanding and description. It has its special techniques of data collection and interpretation. Data and information collected is used to plan and evaluate strategies to prevent sickness and as a guide to the handling of patients in whom the disease has already developed.
Its major study areas include disease causation, transmission, outbreak investigation, and disease surveillance. Other study areas are occupational epidemiology, screening, biomonitoring, and comparisons of treatment effects such as in clinical trials.
Epidemiologists rely on biology as discipline for better understanding of diseases, statistics to make proper use of the data and draw appropriate conclusions and other social sciences to better understand the closest and distal causes of the disease and engineering for exposure assessment.
It identifies the frequency and occurrence of diseases, factors underlying their source and cause, and methods for their control. It requires a harmony of how political, social, and scientific factors commonly aggravate disease risk, which makes epidemiology a unique science.
Veterinary doctors and other professionals involved in preventive medicine and public health use epidemiological methods for disease surveillance, outbreak investigation, outbreak frequency, and observational studies. It helps to identify risk factors of zoonotic disease spread between both human and animal populations.
Public health is a science and art that promotes health and prevents diseases. It is either done by an organized effort of a particular society or an Institute of Medicine with a mission of fulfillment of society’s interest. I.E., ensuring the conditions in which people live are safe and healthy. This mission encompasses a diverse array of individual and collective actions under the ministry of public health. It consists of organized community efforts aimed at the prevention of disease, with the sole goal of improving the health of the general populations. It is an ideology, a profession, a movement, or a set of actions, but not as a single scientific discipline.
Major uses of epidemiology in public health
1. Provides control and preventive strategies
Through the epidemiological studies, information collected from a specific population or an area, public health facilities can plan and evaluate policies. They prevent illness and as a guide to the handling of victims in whom the disease has already matured.
2. Monitoring trends in the occurrence and frequency of specific diseases over time
Through epidemiological studies, professionals can keep track of various illnesses. I.E., ones that are mostly their occurrence, and thus, the public health facilities can come up with preventive and also control measures.
3. Evaluates the severity of a disease crisis and monitors its evolution over time
The death rate of a population is the primary indicator of disease severity since it is the outcome of increased exposure, susceptibility, disease progression, and case fatality. Through surveillance and surveys, the epidemiologists can give a credit report to public health institutes which they then use to curb the crisis.
4. Development of methodology used in clinical research, public health
Through epidemiology, research that is clinical and public health has been boosted in a more significant extent and also basic research in biological sciences but to a lesser extent
5. Use of epidemiological methods for disease surveillance and outbreak investigation
Veterinarians and other public health doctors by the use of these methods can identify risk factors of zoonosis in both human and animal populations. It is one of the most important uses of epidemiology in public health.
6. Public health use of hazard analysis critical point(HACCP) system
HACCP system refers to a systematic approach to food safety from chemical physical and biological hazards. Production processes that can make the finished product to be dangerous and plans measures to reduce these perils to a safe level in public health. Therefore it uses depends significantly on the information produced by epidemiological studies.
7. Further, it guides how the health system responds to current health issues and how they can respond to future potential population health issues.
After epidemiologists assess the health of a particular population, they gain a lot of insight into a crisis. Therefore they can guide the health system on how to intervene and also how to prevent future issues.
8. Implement and evaluate interventions.
Epidemiological practice and the results of epidemiological investigations make a significant contribution to health management. Generally, that is after the public health intervenes, the epidemiologists evaluate the effectiveness of health programs and services in improving the health of the population.
9. Assessment of the health status and needs of a target population
Through various epidemiological surveys on a community, the healthy state, and the needs of the particular people are evaluated. Therefore, the public health system can intervene efficiently to control and prevent future crises.
10. Identifying risk factors
Epidemiological studies identify various factors that increase the vulnerability of the general population contacting multiple diseases. Thus these factors represent critical control points in the food production system, which contributes significantly to health management. Also, the knowledge of the risk factors involved in epidemiology is used to direct further research investigation and to implement disease control measures.
11. Analyzes the relationships between health and different hazardous agents
Epidemiology does not measure the relationships between hosts and agents alone. Also, it analyses the health status of the population living in that environment. For example, the epidemiological triangle of host-agent-environment which describes how individuals contact various diseases. From the analysis and reports guide the public health system accordingly on intervention.
12. To discover the agent, host, and environmental factors that affect health to provide the scientific basis for the prevention of disease and injury and the promotion of health
The knowledge of the causative agents, host and environmental factors that affect health, control, and preventive plans. They have been set up in place to secure the sole goal of the public health is maintained.
13. To determine the relative importance of causes of illness, disability, and death to establish priorities for research and action in public health facilities.
14. To identify those portions of the population that have the highest chance from specific causes of diseases. So that the indicated action may be directed appropriately by the public health, this ensures that its sole goal is upheld that is, improving and promotion of the population health.
Uses of epidemiology in public health are countless. In fact, it is the cornerstone of public health and shapes policy decisions. Also, evidence-based practice by identifying risk factors for disease and targets for preventive healthcare ensures that interventions made by public health are helpful. For instance, evaluating the effectiveness of health programs and services provide an improvement in the health of the population.