Selected Fields 2021
Public health is a wide-ranging discipline aimed at improving health and preventing disease and disability. Its goals, which focus on entire populations rather than individuals, are achieved by promoting healthy lifestyles, researching disease and injury prevention, and preventing, detecting and responding to infectious diseases. Public health also works to limit health disparities by promoting healthcare equity, quality and accessibility.

Traditionally, infectious diseases have been the prime public health concern in much of the developing world, while challenges associated with aging, chronic diseases and cancer have been prioritized elsewhere. Yet, the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic demonstrates that emerging infectious agents can constitute a major threat worldwide.

In recent years, the field of public health has suffered from reduced interest – from the public, governments and media. In the medical world, attention is lavished on cutting-edge yet expensive developments in treatment and surgery. Preventive medicine, which can help huge populations with a relatively modest investment, has often been sidelined or under-budgeted.

The pandemic highlights once more the need for increased investment in disease prevention and in all public health efforts – from epidemiology and biostatistics to health service management and public policy. Prevention is cost-effective for both communicable and non-communicable diseases and its benefits extend far beyond the health system. Past accomplishments in public health have yet to be reproduced within a concerted global effort to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 2021 Dan David Prize for the Present Time Dimension will be awarded to an individual or organization making pioneering and prominent advances in the field of public health.