The Public Health System & the 10 Essential Public Health Services

The Public Health System

Public health systems are commonly defined as “all public, private, and voluntary entities that contribute to the delivery of essential public health services within a jurisdiction.” This concept ensures that all entities’ contributions to the health and well-being of the community or state are recognized in assessing the provision of public health services.

Figure 1: The Public Health System

Scatter diagram depicting the complex relationships of the Public Health Agency among many other community entities such as Schools, Public Works, Hospitals, Law Enforcement, and many more.

Figure 2: The 10 Essential Public Health Services

The public health system includes

  • Public health agencies at state and local levels
  • Healthcare providers
  • Public safety agencies
  • Human service and charity organizations
  • Education and youth development organizations
  • Recreation and arts-related organizations
  • Economic and philanthropic organizations
  • Environmental agencies and organizations

The 10 Essential Public Health Services

The 10 Essential Public Health Services describe the public health activities that all communities should undertake:

  1. Monitor health status to identify and solve 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 and action 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 competent public and personal health care workforce
  9. Evaluate effectiveness, accessibility, and quality of personal and population-based health services
  10. Research for new insights and innovative solutions to health problems

The Core Public Health Functions Steering Committee developed the framework for the Essential Services in 1994. The committee included representatives from US Public Health Service agencies and other major public health organizations.


The 10 Essential Public Health Services: An Overview

Public Health 101
Learn about the components of the US public health system and how they work together to improve the nation’s health. The Public Health 101 Series provides an introduction to public health and covers the sciences essential to public health practice.

Ten Essential Public Health Services and How They Can Include Addressing Social Determinants of Health Inequities
Learn how conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play affect a wide range of health risks and outcomes. These social determinants of health and actions to address the resulting health inequities can be incorporated throughout all aspects of public health work.

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The National Public Health Performance Standards program supports efforts to ensure that the Essential Services are provided across the public health system. The program provides tools for state and local public health systems and public health governing bodies to assess capacity and performance.

Page last reviewed: June 26, 2018