Issues in the definition and philosophy of public health in relation to core competencies


  • Yayehyirad Kitaw
  • Makonnen Assefa
  • Tesfaye Bulto
  • Mirgissa Kaba
  • Tegbar Yigzaw
  • Solomon Worku


Introduction There are various definitions of ‘public health’, as it operates under different and sometimes conflicting skills sets, finance models, professional paradigms, legal authorities and political environments. Official documents in Ethiopia do not attempt to give a formal definition of the term. A collective deliberation and position on these issues is therefore required. Method A rapid review of documents was undertaken to define ‘public health’, in order to help guide the preparation of core competencies for public health training in Ethiopia. Philosophical, theoretical and programmatic materials were also reviewed. Findings and conclusions: The review reveals that various definitions of ‘public health’ persist and the situation is even worse in the neglected and even more controversial field of the philosophy of public health, whose complexity almost implies addressing the philosophy of everything. This is compounded by the quasi-absence of units/departments of public health philosophy and public health journals. The impact of this in the development of more impactful human resources for public health should not be underestimated. Even though public health will always be judged by what happens in practice, the better developed schools of public health in Ethiopia are called upon to develop mechanisms to articulate a philosophy of public health for the country. [Ethiop. J. Health Dev. 2020;34(Special issue 1):34-38]




How to Cite

Kitaw, Y., Assefa, M., Bulto, T., Kaba, M., Yigzaw, T., & Worku, S. (2020). Issues in the definition and philosophy of public health in relation to core competencies. The Ethiopian Journal of Health Development, 34(1). Retrieved from

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