Core Functions & Essential Services

Over 15 years ago, The Institute of Medicine formulated the now familiar three core functions of public health: assessment, policy development and assurance. But many thought these terms failed to communicate meaning to the general public and public health staff. A broad national work group developed a vision and mission for public health, as well as a list of the 10 essential public health services. Most of these services fall under the three core functions of public health, as follows:

  • Monitor health status to identify community health problems
  • Includes diagnosing the community's health status and assessment of health service needs
  • Diagnose and investigate health problems and health hazards in the community
  • Includes epidemiological identification of emerging health threats and active, day to day communicable disease surveillance
Policy Development
  • Inform, educate, and empower people about health issues
  • Includes social marketing, media relations and health education
  • Mobilize community partnerships and action to identify and solve health problems
  • Includes convening and facilitating community groups and coalition building
  • Develop policies and plans that support individual and community health efforts
  • Includes community and state level planning for health improvement, tracking of measurable health objectives and development of legislation to guide the practice of public health
  • Enforce laws and regulations that protect health and ensure safety
  • Includes full enforcement of sanitary codes, full protection of drinking water supplies and monitoring of quality medical services
  • Link people to needed personal health services and assure the provision of healthcare when otherwise unavailable
  • Includes assuring effective entry for disadvantaged people into a coordinated system of care
  • Assure a competent public and personal healthcare workforce
  • Includes continuing education and training for personnel and adoption of continuous quality improvement and life-long learning
  • Evaluate effectiveness, accessibility, and quality of personal and population-based health services
  • Includes ongoing evaluation of health programs
System Management
  • Research for new insights and innovative solutions to health problems
  • Includes continuous linkage with appropriate institutions of higher learning and research, i.e., best practices