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Edited by R Detels, J McEwen, R Beaglehole, H Tanaka. Oxford University Press, 2002. (Pp 1956; 596 euros). ISBN 0-19-263041-5
The Oxford textbook of public health was published for the first time in 1984 as a comprehensive update of the main topics related to public health, in order to show the breadth and depth of its different subjects, to detail changes within the field, to explain new and current medical practices, and to identify the tendencies of the public health agenda. Since its inception, it has served as a mandatory text for students at all levels of public health education. Now, in his fourth edition, this textbook updates the chapters of previous versions and tackles current issues such as genetics, bioterrorism, resurgent and emergent infectious diseases, and advances in public health focuses and interventions.
The chapters on determinants of health, health policies, health and human rights, legislation and ethical issues in public health, techniques in social sciences, functions of public health, assessing health needs, and costs effectiveness analysis, among others, open the doors to debates on matters of interest to public health administrators, as well as those problems that might jeopardise their efforts in the next years. The textbook maintains its traditional division of three volumes: “Scope of public health”, “Methods of public health”, and “The practice of public health”. Each chapter provides an overview of fundamental controversies, a look at developing trends, and data on recent medical advances.
Nevertheless, the main merit of this new version is its intention to include, in the scope of the public health, issues from developing and developed countries. In a globalised world where the poverty and the deprivation continue undermining the benefit of health, the textbook summoned experts from many countries, among them North America, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, who display their own perspectives.
The Oxford textbook of public health, even better in this edition, whose content will continue acting as the front door to the current discussions on public health and whose will of opening has been specified by the publishers, provokes three concerns: the diffusion to non-English speaking users, the acquisition by readers of the developing world, (where the price, which can be accessible in the industrialised countries represents the monthly wage of a professional of public health), and the participation of the points of view of Latin America, which is still scarce.
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