Health protection encompasses operations that aim to enhance global health security and protect public health from currently identified and potential health risks.


Components of public health protection include:

IHR and co-ordination: strategic planning and co-ordination of health protection services, including communicable disease control, emergency preparedness and environmental health. Services need to be modernised to address emerging challenges and crosscutting issues (e.g. climate change). Coordination, implementation and governance processes need to be established with national and international partners to contribute to global health security and reporting for IHR.

Communicable disease control:

  • Local, regional, national and international coordination and advice.
  • Protocols and guidance developed or adapted for high-risk communicable diseases.

Investigation and management, including the following aspects: diagnosis; quality assurance and co-ordination of public health laboratories; active surveillance and monitoring; treatment of cases; contact tracing and outbreak investigation.

  • Control and response, including the following aspects: public education and awareness; preventative action (e.g. Vaccination); work training on infection control; isolation and containment.
  • Evaluation, by applying learning to improve co-ordination, delivery responses, protocols, guidance and training.

Emergency preparedness:

  • Co-ordination by establishing roles and responsibilities with other sectors and at international, national, regional and local levels.
  • Assess risks, identify priorities and develop risk registers.
  • Develop plans for emergency situations such as pandemic influenza; infectious disease outbreaks; natural disasters (e.g. earthquakes); extreme weather events (e.g. for floods, fires, heat/cold); mass gatherings; deliberate attacks or industrial events (e.g.radiation, technical, environmental, biological or chemical hazards).
  • Plans can include primary prevention; early warning systems; emergency responses according to severity; business continuity; short- and long-term follow-up, including for contamination and mental health impacts; evaluation process.
  • Test and improve plans, incorporate lessons into future training and protocols.

Environmental health: assess, monitor, plan and deliver action to mitigate harm caused by and increase the benefits to health from environmental determinants including:

  • Air, soil, food, water and sanitation, for which safety, security and quality are concerns.
  • Built environment, including housing, urban and rural planning, noise and transport.
  • Occupational health.
  • Port health.
  • Chemical, biological, physical and radiation hazards.
  • Taking a ‘One Health’ approach, including human, animal and plant health as part of a planetary health approach.

Climate change and sustainability: assess health impacts and provide advocacy and policy advice on risks to health; strengthen relevant public health functions to support:

  • Adaptation planning and strengthening of health resilience.
  • Cross-sector sustainability and mitigation plans that benefit health, the economy and the environment, including safe roads and green spaces that promote active transport, insulation of buildings, reduction of unhealthy food, clean cook stoves.
  • Link environmental health determinants and benefits with health promotion.

Recent work in the Commonwealth

On the 18th of August 2016, Strengthening Health Protection Policy within Health Systems for UHC.

To go back to the systems framework for healthy policy, please click here…. Systems framework