Health department are agencies or departments of health charged with the responsibility of overseeing the health of the population. They are also responsible for implementing health policies, programs and providing healthcare services. The specific responsibilities of a health department may vary from country to country and from state to state but their primary responsibility remain the same; safeguarding and promoting health.
History of Health Departments
The first ever health department was established in Boston in 1799 with Paul Revere as first health officer under the board of health with the mandate to fight a potential cholera outbreak in the city. That initiative has metamorphosed into United States Department of Health and Human Services, the parent body of Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the National Institute of Health. Founded in 1979, the department got its new name following the signing of the Department of Education Organization Act on the 4th of May 1980. It is saddled with the responsibility of enhancing and protecting the health and well-being of all Americans.
Since its establishment in 1921, the Australian Department of Health has witnessed so many changes in name, structure and function. Originally known as the department of health, in 1987 it was merged with the Department of Community Services which lead to the creation of the Department of Community Services and Health. With the transfer of the housing industry programs to the department in June 1991, the department became known as the Department of Health, Housing and Community Services. Two years later in 1993, the Department of Local Government was added to it forming the Department of Health, Housing, Local Government and Community Services. However, the name was changed again to the Department of Human Services and Health a year later.
In 1996, the department witnessed another change, this time from Department of Human Services and Health to the Department of Health and Family Services. Following the assumption of responsibility for Torres and Aboriginal Strait Islander health matters from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, the department became known as Department of Health and Aged Care. Additional bureaucratic adjustments in 2013 resulted in the name be reverted to the Department of Health.
The Department of Health in the United Kingdom like its counterpart in Australia has witnessed so many changes in the course of time. In the 19th century, several agencies were formed to perform certain consultative duties and which were later dissolved once their services were no longer necessary. There were two incarnations of the Board of Health (in 1805 and 1831) and a General Board of Health (1854 to 1858). The first body (Ministry of Health) was created via the coming into effect of the Ministry of Health Act 1919 which brought medical and public health functions of the central government under a single authority. This was later expanded as a result of emergency and wartime services, from 1935 to 1945, and culminated in the establishment of the National Health Service (NHS) in 1948. Two decades later the Ministry of Health was dissolved and its functions merged with social security to create the Department of Health and Social Security (DHSS) in 1968. In 1988, the two department were separated leading to the creation of two distinct department the Department of Social Security (DSS) and the current Department of Health.
Following the country wide reforms of 2013 in the People’s Republic of China, the Chinese Ministry of Health was dissolved and its functions transferred to a new agency known as the National Health and Family Planning Commission. The ministry previously handled the responsibility of healthcare, raising health awareness, education and providing health information for citizens and visitors.
Functions of Health Department
Although the function of health departments is largely dependent on the types of role assigned to it by the country in which it is domiciled, their primary responsibilities irrespective of the country include;
- Responsibility for government health policy
- Responsibility for the development of programs and guidelines to improve the quality of care and to meet patient expectations.
- The control of illnesses and disease.
- Regulation and oversight functions to ensure the highest standards for food, water, medicines and other healthcare products.
- Regulation of medical, public health or healthcare practice within its jurisdiction.
- Public health enlightenment and capacity building training for health personnel.
- Safeguarding and promoting the health of the population
Notable Health Department Personalities and Their Achievements
Although Hippocrates the ancient Greek philosopher wrote extensively about health and beneficial links between lifestyle, diet, exercise, cleanliness and health, the concept of having a formal system to consider health issues only gained prominence in the late 1700s. Several personalities in the ensuing health bodies played major roles in the evolution of the department around the world
- Paul Revere
Paul Revere was appointed as the first ever health officer in 1799, under the board of health with the mandate to fight a potential cholera outbreak in Boston. A prominent Boston craftsman, he played a crucial role in the American Revolution and was widely celebrated for his role as a messenger (“midnight ride”) in the battles of Lexington and Concord.
- John Maynard Woodworth
American physician and member of the Woodworth political family. Dr. John Maynard Woodworth was appointed supervising surgeon of the Marine Hospital Service and later Supervising-Surgeon General of the United states in 1871 by President Ulysses S. Grant. He laid the foundations for the passage of the National Quarantine Act of 1878 and was instrumental to the fight against cholera and yellow fever epidemics.
- Joseph Goldberger
Joseph Goldberger was an epidemiologist with the United States Public Health Service. He announced his views of pellagra as a dietary deficiency in 1914, where he pushed for the scientific and social recognition of the established links between disease and poverty.
- Albert Sabin
A Polish American and a graduate of the New York University, Albert Sabin commenced the development of a vaccine against the polio virus in 1955. As a medical researcher, Sabin’s quest was to create a vaccine that will lead to the eradication of poliomyelitis. He discovered the mechanism by which the poliovirus multiplied and attacked and created a vaccine that interfered with the chain of transmission of the virus. Sabin also researched extensively on the possible links between viruses and some forms of cancer and was credited with the development of vaccines against encephalitis and dengue.
- Joseph A. Califano,
Joseph A. Califano was Junior Secretary of the Department of Health which later metamorphosed into the US Health and Human Services. In 1977, he launched the National Childhood Immunization Initiative with a target of achieving a vaccination rate of 90% among all children.
- Dr Margaret Chan
Seen as the nemesis of SARS, she served as the Director–General of the World Health Organization from 2007 until 2017. As head of the department of health in Hong Kong during the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 1997, Dr Chan supervised and coordinated the efforts that led to the successful defeat of the pandemic. In 2003, she confronted the first human outbreak of H5N1 avian influenza and also prevailed.
- Professor Olikoye Ransome –Kuti
A Public health pioneer and a distinguished physician, Professor Olikoye Ransome –Kuti was a former minister of health in Nigeria. He announced Nigeria’s first case of AIDS and laid the foundation and structure for the fight against the disease.
Average Salaries of Health Department
Rated as the best health department in the world, the United States Department of Health and Human Services is the parent body of Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the National Institute of Health.
Its employees come from diverse backgrounds which includes epidemiologists, doctors, social and physical scientists, nurses, economists, computer specialists, clerical specialists and many others. The department is located at H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Avenue, S.W. Washington.
Median occupation salary: $96,540
Thousands of new roles are being created at the United Kingdom Department of Health with the aim of transforming health services by improving coverage and quality. With highly equipped state of the art research facilities and excellent working conditions, health England provides a unique place to start or further your health career.
Located at number 79 Richmond House Whitehall, London their offices are opened Monday to Friday, from 8.30am to 5.30pm daily.
Median occupation salary: £34,952
Location: 2001 Mail Service Center Raleigh, NC 27699-2001 919-855-4800
Median occupation salary: $60,800
Location: Regional offices in 8 locations Region 1 Headquarters: Lubbock, Texas
Median occupation salary: $52,860
Location: RSA Tower 201 Monroe Street Montgomery, Alabama
Median occupation salary: $54,890
Pennsylvania Department of Health
Location: Health and Welfare Building 8th Floor West 625 Forster Street Harrisburg, PA 17120
Median occupation salary: $70,800
Location: 150 North 18th Avenue Phoenix, Arizona 85007
Median occupation salary: $61,900
Location: Headquartered in Albany, New York
Median occupation salary: $113,640
Location: Headquartered in Boston
Median occupation salary: $30,919
Location: 101 Israel Rd. SE, P.O. Box 47890 Olympia, Washington, 98504-7890″
Median occupation salary: $82,100
Location: No: 288 North 1460 Cannon Health Building, West Salt Lake City, Utah
Health Resource Line: 1-888-222-2542
Social & Community Service Managers: $65,560
Health & Safety Engineers: $84,150
Healthcare Social Workers: $56,030
Rehabilitation Counselors: $45,990
Location: Richmond, VA, USA +1 804-864-7000, Office of drinking water -211 Nor-Dan Dr #1040, Danville, VA 24540, Phone: +1 434-836-8416
Public Health Nurse
Median occupation salary: $61,222
Median occupation salary: $52,479
Environmental Health Specialist
Median occupation salary: $38,733
Median occupation salary: $34,271
Owing to their multidisciplinary and often complex nature of their responsibilities, Health departments typically employs individuals from diverse back grounds and disciplines to enable them fulfil, their mandate.
From the engineers that construct and maintain health facilities to the physicians who treat patients and the clerks who ensure smooth flow of administrative process, the health department is one of the leading employers of Labour in many countries.
This is a huge repository of vacancies and employment opportunities in public health. Managed by the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH), the portal offers the opportunity for health departments and public health organizations to post vacancies, it also allows job seekers and individuals seeking for career advancement to post their curriculum vitae or résumé for consideration by potential employers.
Health Department Directory
Address: Hubert H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Avenue, S.W. Washington, D.C. 20201
Toll Free Call Center: 1-877-696-6775
Address: RSA Tower 201 Monroe Street Montgomery, Alabama
Address: Headquartered in Juneau.
Address: 150 North 18th Avenue Phoenix, Arizona 85007
Address: 4815 West Markham Street Little Rock, Arkansas 72205
Address: Sacramento, CA 95899-7377
Address: Tallahassee, Florida 30.39°N 84.23°W
Hawaii State Department of Health · 1250 Punchbowl Street · Honolulu, HI 96813″
Address: 535 West Jefferson Street | Springfield, Illinois 62761.
Address: Headquartered in Baton Rouge
Address: Herbert R. O’Conor State Office Building, 201 West Preston St., Baltimore, Maryland
Address: Headquartered in Boston
Address: 333 S. Grand Ave P.O. Box 30195 Lansing, Michigan 48909
Address: 301 Centennial Mall South, Lincoln, Nebraska
Forward Mails To : Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services
P.O. Box 95026, Lincoln, Nebraska 68509-5026
Address: Technology Way, Suite 100 Carson City, Nevada 89706-2009 (775) 684-4000 (775) 684-4010 Fax”
Address: headquartered in the Brown Building in Concord
New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services
129 Pleasant Street | Concord, NH | 03301-3852
Address: Market and Warren Streets, Trenton, New Jersey 08611
Address: 1190 S. St. Francis Dr. Santa Fe, NM 87502
Address: Headquartered in Albany, New York
Address: 2001 Mail Service Center Raleigh, NC 27699-2001 919-855-4800
Address: 120 N Robinson Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Address: 500 Summer Street, NE, E-20 Salem, OR 97301-1097 OHA.DirectorsOffice@state.or.us
Address: Health and Welfare Building 8th Floor West 625 Forster Street Harrisburg, PA 17120
Address: Providence, Rhode Island.
Address: Health and Environmental offices located in the regions, headquartered in Columbia
Address: Regional offices in 8 locations Region 1 Headquarters: Lubbock, Texas
Address: No:288 North 1460 Cannon Health Building ,West Salt Lake City, Utah
Health Resource Line: 1-888-222-2542
Address: Richmond, VA, USA +1 804-864-7000 ,Office of drinking water -211 Nor-Dan Dr #1040, Danville, VA 24540, Phone: +1 434-836-8416
Address: Richmond, VA, USA +1 804-864-7000
Address: 101 Israel Rd. SE, P.O. Box 47890 Olympia, Washington, 98504-7890″
Address: Madison, Wisconsin
Central Office: Downtown, State Capitol / Monona Terrace, No 1 West Wilson Street in Madison, Wisconsin.
Address: Physical Address: 831 Hwy 150 S Evanston WY 82931-017
Retirement Center: 890 Highway 20, Basin WY 82410 Fax (307) 568-3887
Address: Richmond House 79 Whitehall, London SW1A 2NS
Telephone: 0207 210 4850
Fax: 0115 902 3202
Text phone: 0207 451 7965
Opening Hours; Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5.30pm daily
English: Health Canada
French: Santé Canada
Ottawa , Ontario K1A 0K9
Toll free: 1-866-225-0709
Teletypewriter: 1-800-465-7735 (Service Canada)
Phone: (8610) 88050813
Fax: (8610) 63070900
Health and Family Planning Commission
Address: No 1 Xizhimen Outer South Road, Xicheng District, Beijing
Postal code: 100044
Address: Ahmadu Bello Way, Phase III, New Federal Secretariat Complex, Central Business District Abuja Nigeria.
Address: No: 681/682, Port Harcourt Crescent, Area 11, Garki, Abuja, FCT
Address: 823 Ralph Shodeinde St, Central Business District, Abuja
Address: No: 2032 Obasanjo Way, Wuse Zone, 7, Abuja FCT.
Lagos : 3/5 Oshodi Expressway, Lagos.
Telephone: 01-4731018, 01-4524259, 01-4524270,