About Public Health

What is Public Health?

According to the Association of Schools of Public Health, public health is the science of protecting and improving the health of communities through:

  • Education
  • Promotion of healthy lifestyles
  • Research for disease and injury prevention

Public health is personal, its reach is global, and its impact is measurable. Public health professionals analyze the effect on health of genetics, personal choice, and the environment in order to develop programs that protect the health of your family and community. One of the main purposes of public health is to educate the public about health and wellness, teaching people about healthy behaviors and encouraging them to implement these habits in their daily lives. 


Core Functions of Public Health

The following are listed on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website as the core functions of public health:


  • Monitor environmental and health status to identify community environmental health problems
  • Diagnose and investigate environmental health problems and health hazards in the community

Policy Development:

  • Inform, educate and empower people about environmental health issues
  • Mobilize community partnerships to identify and solve environmental health problems
  • Develop policies and plans that support individual and community environmental health efforts


  • Enforce laws and regulations that protect health and ensure safety
  • Link people to needed environmental health services and assure the provision of environmental health services when otherwise unavailable
  • Assure a competent environmental health workforce
  • Evaluate the effectiveness, accessibility and quality of personal and population-based environmental health services
  • Conduct research for new insights and innovative solutions to environmental health problems and issues

10 Essential Services of Public Health

The following 10 Essential Public Health Services developed by the CDC provide a framework for public health to protect and promote the health of all people in all communities.

  1. Assess and monitor population health status, factors that influence health, and community needs and assets.
  2. Investigate, diagnose, and address health problems and hazards affecting the population.
  3. Communicate effectively to inform and educate people about health, factors that influence it, and how to improve it.
  4. Strengthen, support, and mobilize communities and partnerships to improve health.
  5. Create, champion, and implement policies, plans, and laws that impact health.
  6. Utilize legal and regulatory actions designed to improve and protect the public’s health.
  7. Assure an effective system that enables equitable access to the individual services and care needed to be healthy.
  8. Build and support a diverse and skilled public health workforce.
  9. Improve and innovate public health functions through ongoing evaluation, research, and continuous quality improvement.
  10. Build and maintain a strong organizational infrastructure for public health.

Public Health 3.0

Transforming Communities

In October 2016, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health released a set of recommendations to achieve Public Health 3.0, a paradigm for public health transformation that calls on local public health infrastructure to ensure the conditions in which everyone can be healthy. The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) welcomed the explicit focus on local public health in Public Health 3.0 as an opportunity for county and city health departments to refine and embrace their role as champions of community health improvement. 

Public Health 3.0 emphasizes collaborative engagement and actions that directly affect the social determinants of health inequity. Here you can find information about the five Public Health 3.0 recommendations, with an emphasis on the role of the Community Health Strategist in addressing population health, as well as resources for each recommendation and stories from the field that describe how creative, dynamic collaborations are advancing community health.

Learn more by reading NACCHO's Public Health 3.0 Issue Brief.