A vertical public health program is a public health strategy where the majority of a health organization’s resources and expenses are concentrated to addressing one pressing health issue. Vertical public health programs generally foster the initiative to eradicate epidemic or pandemic disease. Understanding how a vertical programming is applied will allow public health practitioners to tailor health programs and initiatives to populations more efficiently and effectively. Advantages of vertical programming include harboring and dealing with singular goals as well as obtaining easily measurable progress towards the overall operation. Because of this, as well as the effective end result of vertical programing in achieving its goal, public health professionals can attain to its success as a program. However, vertical public health programs divert resources from other health institutions, therefore weakening the progress towards treating other medical problems. Therefore, this approach may have aspects of it that are appealing, yet it frequently neglects other issues and makes them seem less important, which should not be the case. In the case of a vertical program failing, as seen in the Hookworm Eradication Initiative, not only does the eradication of a disease not come to fruition, but treatment towards other ailments, for example, are hindered. Vertical programming draws resources and expertise away from primary care and the prevention of public health problems, contributing to the exacerbation of illnesses due to lack of sanitation, nutrition, and primary prevention, and is therefore inefficient.
Vertical Programming and Primary Care
One instance of vertical programming’s inefficiency is its diversion of resources an...
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...dressing only small part of a greater picture. Though not explicitly stated, a combination of vertical and horizontal programming should be the focus of future public health programs. That is, instead of focusing on only one disease, many health issues should be acknowledged and addressed but yet still given priority for resource allocation. Of course some public health issues are more important than others, but we, as future public health practitioners, cannot stop looking at smaller issues just because they are perceived as less important; all public health issues are important. When the health of communities suffers in any way, the future suffers, and we must be the ones to reduce as much suffering as possible.
Stein, A. Eric. “Sanitary Makeshifts” and the Perpetuation of Health Stratification in Indonesia.
New York. Oxford University Press. 2009.