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The Essential Public Health Services

1. Monitor health status to identify community health problems

2. Diagnose and investigate health problems and health hazards in the community

3. Inform, educate, and empower people about health issues

4. Mobilize community partnerships to identify and solve health problems

5. Develop policies and plans that support individual and community health efforts

6. Enforce laws and regulations that protect health and ensure safety

7. Link people to needed personal health services and assure the provision of health care when otherwise unavailable

8. Assure a competent public health and personal health care workforce

9. Evaluate effectiveness, accessibility, and quality of personal and population-based health services

10. Conduct research to attain new insights and innovative solutions to health problems

SOURCE: Public Health Functions Steering Committee (1994).

To attain the vision of healthy people in healthy communities, we must assure that all communities, no matter how small, have access to the essential public health services. All partners who can contribute to action as a public health system should be encouraged to assess their roles and responsibilities, consider changes, and devise ways to better collaborate with other partners. They can transform the way they "do business" to better act to achieve a healthy population on their own and position themselves to be part of an effective partnership in assuring the health of the population. Health policy should create incentives to make these partnerships easier.

Clearly, the health care delivery system already plays an important role in providing several of the Essential Public Health Services (ESs). For example, health care providers can contribute to public health surveillance and assessment of community health status (ESs 1 and 2), and they can employ their resources in health promotion and education activities (ES 3). The many entities that operate within communities can collaborate with other partners to monitor health and investigate health-related needs (ESs 1 and 2) and can play a dynamic role in education, empowerment, and mobilization for health improvement (ESs 3 and 4). Communities can also become involved in policy development (ES 5), either directly or indirectly through organizational efforts and advocacy. Academia informs, educates, and empowers people about health issues (ES 3) through partnerships with communities that provide practical and service-oriented learning opportunities for students. Academia also assures workforce competence by providing high-quality education and training (ES 8), in addition to its substantial roles in evaluation and research (ESs 9 and 10). America's businesses and employers have the opportunity to promote health and prevent disease and disability in their own workforces (ES 3). Employers are also a critical source of health care payment for personal health care services (ES 7). Furthermore, because businesses are closely involved with communities, they can collaborate in partnerships that monitor, identify, and address community health problems (ESs 1 and 4). Finally, the mass media can educate, inform, and thus empower (ES 3) communities with accurate and timely health communications.

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