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The Association of Schools of Public Health in the European Region (ASPHER)

ASPHER is the key independent European organisation dedicated to strengthening the role of public health by improving education and training of public health professionals for both practice and research.
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Italians have understood what public health is for: Reflections from the frontline of COVID-19

ASPHER Executive Board Member, Carlo Signorelli is on the frontlines of the containment battle against coronoavirus (COVID-19) in Europe at the Vita-Salute San Raffaele University in Milan. He has recently penned an editorial (translated below from the Italian) for the Italian Society of Hygiene, Preventive Medicine and Public Health (SItI) Newsletter. More reporting from SItI is available in the 6 March newsletter edition online here.

Italians have understood what public health is for

logoAn epidemic faced without effective drugs or vaccines but with containment measures (isolations and quarantines), mitigation (limitations on aggregations) and good organization (hospital beds availability). All accompanied by the application of pandemic plans, accredited laboratories, integrated management of emergency health networks, correct use of medical devices and behavioral advice. These are chapters of the books on hygiene and public health that have suddenly become mandatory public health measures adopted by the central, regional and local levels of the NHS to reduce the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Mind you: it is not the first health emergency managed by Italian public health professionals: just think of Seveso's dioxine disaster, Chernobil, AIDS, mad cow disease and SARS.

logoBut the media prominence and the echo of social media have made this event of great impact. Many public health professionals (igienisti) are at the forefront of daily operations, from the President of the NIH to the various public health professionals of the prevention departments. Some are called virologists, others epidemiologists; but let's not subtletize on qualifications at this stage: what matters is that, after the coronavirus, public health will be better known and, we hope, more appreciated. And taking advantage of what is happening and thanks to the admirable behavior of many public health professionals in this circumstance, it is perhaps appropriate to start a campaign that finally makes clear to the public (and perhaps even at some political level) the usefulness, indeed the indispensability, of our discipline (like the renown This is Public Health Campaign).

Carlo Signorelli

(Translated from the Italian)

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