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With the emergence of the welfare State and the emergence of The United nations, the objective of public health has received unprecedented attention in public health policies. In our present era public health is in transition. There has been tremendous progress in the public health scenario but altogether new challenges have also come up requiring new policy and implementation initiatives. There has been considerable progress in the development of vaccines for a number of communicable diseases. Small pox has almost been wiped out from the world.

Leprosy, yaws, trachoma, guinea worm, river blindness, measles, diphtheria,whooping cough,tetanus, poliomyelitis and iodine deficiency disorders are about to be eliminated or eradicated. The use of laser, microsurgery and synthetic components are on the rise. Genetic engineering will play significant role in the coming decades.

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The 21stcentury will bring about a new era of public health. The ideals of socioeconomic development policies, including health, have been translated into concrete action in many countries.This is an era where continued development and good governance of health systems is essential.

It is high time to strengthen national and international tie-ups in health development. The overwhelming concern is to find tangible ways of fostering meaningful partnerships with these “new” players. Over the last few years, WHO, together with major international academic institutions, has organized several consultations and seminars on this issue. The academic institutions must reorder their priorities to effectively address the health challenges ahead.They need to develop mutually beneficial academic linkages with similar institutions at national and international levels.They also need to broaden their services and research interests to address the health concerns of the people, keeping in mind the scarcity of resources. The major challenge, however, is how to produce a proper mix of health care personnel, capable of fulfilling effectively the health needs of the people.

The health personnel need to be trained using a more holistic approach, including a team approach, in health care and development.Another challenge is to reorient those already in the work force with the new concepts, knowledge and skills. A major task for the schools of public health and medicine today is how to train various categories of personnel to be sensitive to the need for intersectoral action. The success of public health institutions in the future will depend largely on how these institutions prepare health personnel to link meaningfully with other sectors and with decision-makers.Finally, global action and cooperation is a must to secure the benefits of globalization for health for all on an equitable basis. This is essential to prevent or minimize threats to health and well being. We need to foster global public health action through the full utilization of international and intergovernmental organizations involved in health and health development.

Such global public health action will include active surveillance on the global burden of disease, support for research on poverty and health, and the development of ethical and scientific norms and standards.

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