The Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), is an autonomous foundation located in New Delhi, India. The foundation was created as a public-private initiative and launched by the Prime minister of India, Manmohan Singh in 2006 with the aim of enhancing the capacity of public health professionals in the country over five to seven years. The PHFI initiative was collaboratively developed over two years under the leadership of Rajat Gupta (Former Sr. Partner Worldwide, McKinsey & Company), the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Prof. K. Srinath Reddy (President, PHFI and former Head of the Department of Cardiology, AIIMS). Responding to requests for information under the Right to Information Act, 2005, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and PHFI have stated that PHFI was neither a 'public-private partnership' (PPP).
India faces a severe shortfall of public health professionals, and capacity building efforts are urgently required to address its emerging public health challenges.
Public health has evolved as a multi-disciplinary science which deals with the determinants and defence of health at the population level so as to impact upon and improve the health of individuals in that population. It aims to focus on and influence the multiple determinants of health (economic, social, behavioural and biological) and to undertake and evaluate multi-sectoral interventions to positively influence those determinants. It also involves the study of health systems, their structure and management practices as channels for delivery of health services for all sections of the population.
As India experiences a rapid health transition, it is confronted both by an unfinished agenda of eliminating infectious diseases, nutritional deficiencies, unsafe pregnancies and the challenge of escalating epidemics of non-communicable diseases. This composite threat to the nationâ€™s health and development needs a concerted public health response that can ensure delivery of cost-effective interventions for health promotion, disease prevention and affordable diagnostic and the therapeutic health care.
This broad ambit makes it essential that education and training in public health is multi-disciplinary in content and that the pathways of public health action are multi-sectoral. Public health education must include subject areas like epidemiology, biostatistics, behavioural sciences, health economics, health services management, environmental health, health inequities and human rights, gender and health, health promotion and communication, ethics of health care and research. These diverse disciplines need to establish synergistic links in designing and delivering health care in prioritized sectors. It is also essential to advance a trans-disciplinary research agenda which informs policy and empowers programs. There is a constant need for surveillance, monitoring and evaluation. The interventions proposed need to be evidence based, context specific and resource sensitive. Thus public health should emphasize health promotion, disease prevention and cost effective as well as equitable health care through collective actions at various levels (viz. macro, public and private) to address the underlying causes of diseases, and foster conditions in which communities or population groups may lead healthy lives.