Roles and Functions of Public Health

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), classifies Public health and healthcare agencies as health organization systems. These organizations are under the watch of the department of health. The main objective of these health organization systems is to ensure that the promotion, protection, advancement, and safety of health of all Americans is enhanced. This objective is achieved through the provision of mechanisms and policies that facilitate quick response to health care demands. The necessary tools for this entangle cute leadership, deployment of excellent healthcare and public health practices coupled with means and techniques of advancing public health science. Central to the concerns of the objectives of health systems, as this paper unveils; the role and functions of healthcare agencies and public health agencies are more similar than they are different.

The focus of Public health agencies is the overall population. This means that the main tasks of the agencies entail making sure that the population is prevented from becoming sick or even getting sicker. In this context, the agencies provide strengthened leadership in public health during crisis times coupled with making it their responsibility to put in place strategies that make it possible to address a myriad of factors that may truncate into injury and illness of the whole population (Handler et al., 2001, p.1235). Arguably, therefore, having active public health agencies is critical in the creation of federal leadership during emergency events that may pose threats to the population of more than one state and or territory. Opposed to this role, health care agencies or public healthcare agencies predominantly focus on ensuring that individuals are treated. In this context, the agencies ensure that individuals are shielded from becoming sick or even sicker. Arguably, the functions and roles of healthcare agencies are the fundamental frameworks from where the work of the public health agencies begins because situations that may pose threats to the larger population start from individuals. For instance, the outbreak of influenza may start from a single case and spread across a whole state. At an individual level, proper treatment is the concern of the healthcare agencies while the task of proper treatment and prevention of further spreading of the outbreak fall in the realm of roles and functions of the public health agencies.

Both public health and healthcare agencies share a number of similarities. One of the striking similarities is that, at individual and public fronts, they have similar building blocks. According to Handler et al. (2001), these are maintenance of the functionality of the information systems in their areas of focus, prompt service delivery, enhancing accessibility to vaccines and other medical products, governance and leadership, availing sufficient financing and monitoring performance of health services provision workforce (p. 1237). Both agencies are also charged with roles and functions of promotion of health knowledge to its area of concerns that are essentially evidence-based. This compound role is critical in enhancing successes and achievement of the missions and objectives of the department of health not only within federal states but also in entire America.

This entangles development coupled with the integration of tools for fostering surveillance of health systems, which are critical in manning outbreaks of infectious diseases. Additionally, Ford, Duncan, and Ginter (2005) posit, healthcare workers may experience challenges associated with psychological and behavioral personal characteristics during treatment and control of pandemics (p.15). Thus, it is the duty of healthcare and public care agencies to ensure that such challenges are proactively mitigated to facilitate the safeguarding of personal resiliency during situations entailing both individual and public pandemics. This is particularly essential since it is widely agreed by healthcare professionals that distress, anger, fear, exhaustion, helplessness, and grief may present compromises to standards of health services delivery (Ford, Duncan & Ginter, 2005, p. 15). From this argument, it is clear that the roles and functions of healthcare and public agencies extend beyond focusing on the needs of the clients, of health facilities to include addressing issues that may affect the quality and standard of service delivery by the care centers falling under the control of the agencies.

In the sphere of the roles and functions of healthcare and public care agencies roles and functions, both agencies have an additional role following the September 11 U.S attacks. According to Zahner and Vandermause (2003), this role entangles the need to monitor and control of emerging ailments and terrorism-associated health challenges within their areas of mandate (p.26). This role is critical in ensuring that healthcare and public health agencies are capacitated to address health risks associated with terrorist attacks, by putting in place the appropriate infrastructure to address them. Additionally, both healthcare and public health agencies are charged with the roles of successful implementation of the 10 critical public health services that are identified by U.S public officials in charge of health services in 1994 and discussed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2001, p.11). In connection with these 10 issues, additional roles applicable to both agencies are the protection of both individuals and the entire population from toxins in the environment, chronic ailments, influenza, and infant mortalities that are unacceptable.

In conclusion, the paper has discussed similinities and differences of the duties and functions of health care and public care agencies. The paper has found more similarities than differences of the roles of two agencies that fall under the healthcare organization systems.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2001). Public Health’s Infrastructure: A Status Report. Atlanta, Ga: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ford, W., Duncan, J., & Ginter, M. (2005). Health departments’ implementation of public health’s core functions: an assessment of health impacts. Public Health, 1(1), pp 11–21.

Handler, A., Issel, M., & Turnock, B. (2001). A conceptual framework to measure performance of the public health system. American Journal of Public Health, 9(1), 1235–1239.

Zahner, J., & Vandermause, R. (2003). Local health department performance: compliance with state statutes and rules. Journal of Public Health Management Practices, 9(1), 25–34.

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