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Avoid the Hustle

The Organization of Public Health

Category: Healthcare

The health and well-being of citizens is typically a function of state government. Therefore, it is important to understand the public health functions which have been delegated to local health departments.
Visit a State (Provincial) Health Department website and two local health department websites.
1. Which jurisdictions have clear mission statements published on their site? Was the mission statement, if any, based on the IOM definition of public health? (To view a guideline on writing mission statements in general, see
2. Describe the way each site presents information related to immunizations for children and adults.
3. Did any of the jurisdictions provide an assessment of their public-health-related health problems? If so, what type of assessment was performed?
4. In your opinion, were any essential or important services neglected?
5. Based on your review of the three selected websites, explain how these sites do or do not contribute to the health and well-being of the citizens in their respective jurisdictions.
Listen to the National Public Radio (NPR) broadcast of October 20, 2001, on Weekend All Things Considered, titled “Public Health.” Then listen to the segment on “Local Public Health” which was broadcast on October 25, 2001, on All Things Considered. (Enter the date of the broadcast followed by the title in quotes in the Search bar.)
Required Reading
Structure and functions of state public health agencies in 2007. Am J Public Health. 2011 Jul;101(7):1179-86. Epub 2011 May 12. Madamala K, Sellers K, Beitsch LM, Pearsol J, Jarris PE.
Beitsch, L. M., Brooks, R. G., Menachemi, N., & Grigg, M. (2006). Structure and Functions of State Public Health Agencies. American Journal of Public Health, 96(1), 167-172. Retrieved from
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. MMWR – Core Functions of State Public Health Laboratories. Retrieved from
Johns Hopkins University online lecture series (2008) Core Functions and Essential Service. Retrieved from
Optional Reading
Supercourse. Principles of Public Health – The Mission, Core Functions and Ten Essential Services. Retrieved from
Handler, A., Issel, M., & Turnock, B. (2001). A conceptual framework to measure performance of the public health system. Am J Public Health, 91(8), 1235-1239.
Keane, C., Marx, J., & Ricci, E. (2001). Privatization and the scope of public health: a national survey of local health department directors. Am J Public Health, 91(4), 611-617.