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Accrediting Public Health Departments

Accrediting Public Health Departments
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Funding for public health departments accounts for less than 3 percent of the total health budget in the United States. Since the Great Recession in the late 2000s, health departments have been hit hard with budget cuts and are grappling with how to respond to COVID-19 and other health threats. Most departments are reliant on several funding streams from the federal government, with most of that money focused on specific health outcomes. One-quarter of all funding for local departments comes from Medicaid and service fees, while one percent comes from private foundations.

CDC’s Prevention and Population Health Mission

The CDC is charged with improving the health of people and populations around the world. The organization promotes healthy lifestyles and disease prevention, detects infectious diseases, and responds to outbreaks. The goal of public health is to protect the health of entire populations

– from a small neighborhood to a large country. Through prevention, public health is the science of saving lives. But the CDC isn’t free of politics. The agency is still funded by Congress but it is independent from political pressure.

State and local public health departments

While state and local public health departments may vary in size and scope, there are some similar aspects. Regardless of size, public health is an important arena that should be standardized in order to ensure quality services. The NPHPSP, or National Public Health Performance Standards Program, can be used as a baseline for accreditation. In addition to defining and reporting the basic elements of public health, the NPHPSP can help state and local health departments achieve accreditation.

CDC’s Epidemiology and Lab Capacity (ELC) Cooperative Agreement Program

The CDC’s Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity (ELC) program has helped state and local public health agencies build critical epidemiology and lab capacity. The program has helped expand the capacity of public health laboratories and improve surveillance information systems for outbreak investigations and disease outbreaks. In the last five years, the program has distributed nearly $780 million to nearly 64 jurisdictions.


NACCHO’s Accreditation Support Initiatives (ASIs)

One of the key components of a successful accreditation process is documenting capacity. Public health departments must submit documentation to demonstrate their capabilities. These documents can include an agency-wide Strategic Plan, Community Health Assessment, or Quality Improvement Program. Listed below are examples of documents required for accreditation. Ensure your agency’s accreditation readiness by learning more about NACCHO’s Accreditation Support Initiatives for Public Health Departments.

Opportunities for Workforce Development

Despite the fact that workforce development is considered one of the 10 essential public health services, public health departments face a number of challenges. These challenges include inadequate training systems, an unprepared workforce, and a lack of awareness about national trends. To overcome these challenges, public health departments must focus on recruitment and retention efforts. The Directors Assessment of Workforce Needs Survey was conducted in 2017 and surveyed 574 managers at state health agencies in the U.S. The respondents were invited to respond based on their position and had to supervise specific program areas. Descriptive statistics were calculated with Fisher’s exact test and Tukey’s test for multiple comparisons.