National Voluntary Accreditation for Public Health Departments
The goal of the national accreditation program is to improve and protect the health of the public by advancing the quality and performance of public health departments. State, tribal, local and territorial health departments are eligible to apply.
Health departments participating in national, voluntary accreditation may expect benefits similar to those reported by local health departments with state-based accreditation programs.
Improving Public Health Departments and Public Health Infrastructure
The accreditation assessment process provides valuable, measurable feedback to health departments on their strengths and areas for improvement.
A local health official participating in the national Public Health Accreditation Board beta test process reported
“Ultimately, this beta test is turning out to be an incredibly enlightening experience. Sometimes, the light is warm and welcoming, and at other times, it is bright and intrusive! No matter…that is what we need and that is what we want. The result for us will be an enhanced, more proficient public health system and a more faithful servant to our communities.”
Strengthening Delivery of Public Health Services and Programs
Engaging in accreditation catalyzes quality and performance improvement within all public health programs and can help health departments be better prepared to proactively respond to emerging and reemerging health challenges.
A recent study in North Carolina, which has a legislatively supported accreditation program for its local health departments (LHDs), explored emergency preparedness activities in accredited and non-accredited health departments. The researchers concluded, “The preparedness and response capabilities of communities served by accredited LHDs exceed those of non-accredited LHDs,” and “Accreditation improves the infrastructure which has a positive impact on emergency preparedness activities.”
Increasing Accountability and Credibility
An intended benefit of public health accreditation is momentum toward greater accountability and enhanced credibility to stakeholders, partners and communities.
This may lead to public health breakthroughs and opportunities for policy change, just as it did for a health department in Mississippi, Missouri. The health department had long sought a more rigorous food safety ordinance, but did not receive the necessary support until it received accreditation.