US Public Health Service

Date: Dec 8, 2017
Category: Public Health

The US Public Health Service is a system of the health sector that includes both public and private sector health agencies whose operations have important outcomes on the general health of the public. Public health service is defined by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) as the efforts, science, art, and approaches by the entire sectors in the country to maintain and ensure the physical wellbeing of every person. The public health service was founded in 1798 at Marine Hospital which primarily provided health care for the sick and disabled salesmen (Porter, 1994). Trade, travel and immigration networks developed in the 19th century. This called for the hospital to expand its networks in order to provide health services to all Americans. In 1902, the Marine Hospital was named the Public Health and Marine Hospital Service in efforts to reflect the change. 10 years later, the name was shortened to Public Health Service. Having gained the new name, the Public Health Service (PHS) was given responsibilities under a clear legislative authority. It was entitled to investigate the diseases that had serious effect on man, the conditions that influence the transmission, as well as their diversity. All types of illnesses, not to mention their causes, fell under the Public Health Service.

The PHS has several important milestones which were structured in the Public Service Act of 1944. The PHS is the primary division of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW), which afterwards became the US Department of Health and Human Services. The PHS consists of all agency Divisions of Health and Human Services and the Commissioned Corps which were available during its initial naming in 1912. The most important milestone is the Commissioned Corps. This is among the 7 uniformed services. The commissioned corps occupies public health leadership and service roles in federal administration agencies and programs. The officers in this milestone are drawn from numerous professions such as environmental and occupational health, pharmacy, psychology, and nursing, among other occupations. Officers of the corps put on uniforms that are similar to the US Navy. The mission of the US commissioned corps is to protect, promote, and advance the health and safety of the country. The mission is attained through rapid and effective response to public health requirements, leadership and quality in public health services, as well as development of public health science (Porter, 1994).

The US Public Health Service has numerous functions in the country that correlate with the physical wellbeing of every individual. Its mission is to advance the physical and mental health of societies and populations, and to prevent diseases, injury, and disability. The populations comprise of a small number of people, which makes it easy for the PHS to act in the case of an outbreak. This indicates the structure of the PHS in the US and a number of the key achievements to date as well as upcoming challenges. More so, the US government participates a lot in ensuring that the mission of the PHS is achieved. This also indicates the complexity of the PHS and its role in protecting the health of populations (Minkler Wallerstein, 2010).

The PHS is not solely determined in ensuring the health of populations. It is also encompassed with core values that help it to accomplish its mission. Core values are very essential for every agency that needs to be credible, sustainable, and consistent. They define the philosophical basis of the corporate culture of an organization, which is manifested in the organization's mission, objectives, and activities. The core values of the PHS are; leadership, service, integrity and excellence. Every personnel in the US Public Health Service has adopted these core values in order to fulfill every detail of the sectors mission statement as affirmed by Minkler Wallerstein, (2010). The leadership of the PHS provides vision and principle through encouragement, devotion and reliability. Service demonstrates a devotion to the PHS through considerate actions and stewardship of time, talents, and resources. Integrity illustrates categorical ethical behavior and upholds the highest standards of conscientiousness and responsibility, while excellence displays advanced performance and continuous enhancement in knowledge and expertise. All these core values are an integral part in the protection, advancement and promotion of the health and safety of the nation.

Among the core values of the PHS, service is the main function of this sector. The PHS is entitled to provide service to all individuals regarding their health concerns. For instance, an outbreak of any disease would get the PHS to act with immediate effect and ensure that every person's health is safe. Service in the PHS is carried out with the acknowledgement of the public health infrastructure. This sector is comprised of different types of organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Health Resources and Services Administration (FDA), among others (Teutsch Churchill, 2000).

The US Public Health Service has several roles in the public health. First, it is noted that physical care is the goal of the PHS in public health. In addition, PHS is entitled to clean up and protect the environment by highlighting toxic exposures, population advancement, urbanization, and urban design, which obstructs healthy behaviors. When the environment is clean, there is a possibility of few cases of illnesses since most of the rising diseases are caused by dirty environments which become breeding places for mosquitoes as well as polluting the surrounding. However, in order to avoid the illnesses and ensure physical fitness for every individual in the country, the PHS has taken its mandate to clean up the environment since it is in many cases made dirty by overpopulation.

Another role of the PHS in public health is to respond to emerging infectious diseases, which become threats to human health (Teutsch Churchill, 2000). Diseases such as tuberculosis and polio, among others need immediate attention in terms of vaccination in order to provide a safe environment for everyone. To achieve this PHS is always ready in case of any emerging disease. The readiness is found on the public health infrastructure of the country. This varies depending on the vaccines and other devices that could be used to eradicate a health disaster. The PHS cannot work effectively without addressing contributions and recognizing the overall health and well-being through identifying risk factors. In this, they are able to find the means of treatment and promote good mental health as well as other health issues to the community. The public health service is committed t performing its duties as affirmed by numerous studies. This is because the US is noted to be among the leading countries in which disease control has been on the highest rate. Consequently, very few cases of death as a result of pandemics are witnessed, indicating the effectiveness of the PHS.

The US Public Health Service uses a number of ways in efforts to improve public health. Some of these ways include education and training to public health professionals throughout the globe. These specialists are found in medical schools, nursing schools, schools of public health, veterinary schools, and schools of public affairs, among others. The training usually requires a university degree; hence the services offered by those who have undergone training are excellent. The core disciplines that are tackled include; health policy, health education, biostatistics, epidemiology, behavioral science, and environmental health. As noted from these subjects, they all correlate with public health attempts to preserve the environment (Minkler Wallerstein, 2010).

Another way in which the US Public Health Service improves public health is through disease control. This sector works in conjunction with the center for disease control (CDC) in efforts to eradicate disease in the US. For instance, it is noted that the PHS makes efforts to offer treated mosquito nets to pregnant others and those who live in areas where mosquitoes are likely to breed. The activities that are performed by the PHS are numerous and range from little beginnings to wide actions. Chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease are on more focus. The PHS has also participated in putting a stop to communicable diseases by acting on the known factors behind the diseases. For instance, the sector has had conferences with the persons who are addicted to tobacco as well as improving family planning programs in order to ensure good health to every citizen. This entirely helps to improve the public health, which leads to an environment that is free from numerous health issues. In addition, chlorination of drinking water, filtration, and sewage treatment are among the many attempts by the PHS in improving public health, which is its objective. This has helped to reduce waterborne diseases such as typhoid and cholera in the entire country (Minkler Wallerstein, 2010).

The US Public Health Service has lacked effective improvement strategies which would help it to promote modern medicine and scientific neutrality to drive the public health policy and campaign against the many practices that lead to infections such as substance abuse (Buntain, 2004). The PHS should also provide leadership on matters of critical health and engage in partnerships where joint action is required. This will enable it to deal with emerging health issues in a quicker manner; hence reduce incidences of death when the sector is caught unaware. In addition, there should be public health programs that will help to reduce the chances of infectious diseases among other emerging issues in the public health sector. The public health programs can serve as a warning for imminent public health disasters.

The PHS should also introduce a coherent health care scheme that will entail improved equity, quality and cost as well as emphasizing prevention of diseases. This will be achieved through union with the federal government that will help to create additional funds to this sector; hence the many activities that are left unattended will be performed with ease. For instance, it has been noted that a number of the health issues are not performed due to lack of sufficient funds.


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  2. Minkler, M., Wallerstein, N. (Eds.). (2010). Community-based participatory research for health: From process to outcomes. Wiley. com.

  3. Porter, D. (Ed.). (1994). The History of Public Health and the Modern State (Vol. 26). Rodopi.

  4. Teutsch, S. M., Churchill, R. E. (Eds.). (2000). Principles and practice of public health surveillance. Oxford University Press.