Public Health’s 10 Essential Services

Let’s take a step back and look at the big picture – what is public health?  Public health is everywhere and is a part of the infrastructure that keeps our communities safe and healthy and focuses on the entire populations while other models may focus on the individual.  In the 1900s the average lifespan of people in the US increased by 30 years and according to an article by Bunker, Frazier, and Mosteller (1994), 25 years can be attributed to advances in public health. 

But what’s public health?  One way to describe it to newcomers is what we call the “10 Essential Public Health Services”, which summarizes and categorizes public health into 10 core disciplines.  Here they are: 

  • Monitor health status to identify and solve community health problems… (what’s going on in our state/community? Do we know how healthy we are?)
  • Diagnose and investigate health problems and health hazards in the community…  (Are we ready to respond to health problems or threats? How quickly do we find out about problems? How effective is our response?)
  • Inform, educate, and empower people about health issues and keeping folks informed about health issues and healthy choices… (How well do we keep all people and segments of our State informed about health issues?
  • Mobilize community partnerships and action to identify and solve health problems and engage people and organizations in health issues… (How well do we really get people and organizations engaged in health issues?)
  • Develop policies and plans that support individual and community health efforts and plan and implement sound health policies… (What policies promote health in our State? How effective are we in planning and in setting health policies?)
  • Compliance with standards designed to that protect health and ensure safety..  (Are we effective at ensuring that our health regulations are  up-to-date, and do we gain compliance in effective, competent, and fair ways?)
  • Link people to needed personal health services and assure the provision of health care when otherwise unavailable and make sure people receive the medical care they need… (Are people receiving the medical care they need?)
  • Assure a competent public health and medical workforce… (do we have a competent public health staff? How can we be sure that our staff stays current?)
  • Evaluate effectiveness, accessibility, and quality of personal and population-based health services… (Are we doing any good? Are we doing things right? Are we doing the right things?)
  • Research for new insights and innovative solutions to health problems… (Are we discovering and using new ways to get the job done?)

When you get a chance, click on some of the elements above- I’m pretty sure you’ll see yourself and your program in a least a couple of places.  The elements above are independent of each other yet are complementary goals for communities to work toward.  The Community Toolbox has great information to further explore the services.  The elements above are also used as a foundation for the National Public Health Performance Standards Program instruments whose goal and mission are to improve the quality of public health practice and the performance of the public health system.  These instruments (assessments) are a part of the prerequisite for accreditation.