Association of State and Territorial Health Officials

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The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) represents the public health agencies of all 50 states in the United States, the District of Columbia, the five U.S. territories, and the three freely associated states. ASTHO members, the chief health officials in each of these jurisdictions, formulate and influence public health policy and work to protect and promote good health in the populations they serve.


ASTHO assists state health agencies by collecting and disseminating promising public health practices, facilitating or directly providing technical assistance, and providing opportunities for state health agency staff to learn from each other.[1]


Healthy people thriving in a nation free of preventable illness and injury.


To transform public health within states and territories to help members dramatically improve health and wellness.


The origin of health officials from the states getting together to discuss matters of public health concern that spanned state boundaries is the organization and first meeting of the Sanitary Council of the Mississippi Valley in 1879, a meeting to address limiting the spread of yellow fever and cholera outbreaks. [2] In 1903, the U.S. Surgeon General began convening an annual meeting of state health officers to discuss controlling yellow fever and other diseases prevalent at the time. [3] After the Social Security Act of 1935 specified appropriations to states for the purpose of public health, [4] state public health officers saw the need for a more formal organization, leading to the incorporation of ASTHO on March 23, 1942.


ASTHO is governed by a board of directors comprised by five executive officers and ten regional representatives, as well as four nonvoting, ex-officio members representing important constituents. The board receives input from the following committees, most of which include a mix of state health officials, state health agency department heads, and other public health leaders: Senior Deputies Committee, Affiliate Council, Access Policy Committee, eHealth Policy Committee, Environmental Health Policy Committee, Infectious Disease Policy Committee, Performance Policy Committee, Preparedness Policy Committee, Prevention Policy Committee, and Government Relations Policy Committee.

Recent Publications[edit]

  • Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome: How States Can Help Advance the Knowledge Base for Primary Prevention and Best Practices of Care — A policy primer giving an array of strategies and examples for state health agencies to deal with babies being born addicted to opiods.
  • 2014 State Legislative and Regulatory Prospectus — A report examining trends in pre-filed, public health-related bills filed in state legislatures including regulation of compounding pharmacies, drug shortages, and violence prevention
  • Making the Case for Infectious Disease Infrastructure — A communications toolkit funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that stresses the importance of state health agencies' ability to quickly detect and respond to infectious diseases.
  • Role of the State and Territorial Health Official in Promoting Health Equity — A report explaining how state health agencies can promote a health equity agenda across agency programs and throughout state government.

Executive Director[edit]

Paul E. Jarris, MD, MBA, was appointed Executive Director of ASTHO effective June 19, 2006. Prior to his appointment, Dr. Jarris served as State Health Official of the Vermont Department of Health from 2003 to 2006.

Dr. Jarris graduated from the University of Vermont and received his MD from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 1984. He interned at Duke-Watts Family Medicine Residency Program in Durham, North Carolina, and completed his residency at the Swedish Family Practice Residency Program in Seattle, Washington. Following residency training, he received a MBA from the University of Washington. Dr. Jarris served as Medical Director for Vermont’s largest nonprofit HMO, Community Health Plan, from 1992-1996. He was President and CEO of Vermont Permanente Medical Group from 1998-2000 as well as CEO of Primary Care Health Partners, Vermont’s largest statewide primary care medical group, from 1999-2000. Throughout his career, Dr. Jarris has maintained an active clinical family practice, including work in federally qualified health centers and a shelter for homeless adolescent youth. He is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and the American Board of Medical Management.


  1. ^ "State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Public Health Professionals Gateway". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Archived from the original on 31 March 2013. Retrieved 25 March 2013. 
  2. ^ Duffy, John (1990). The Sanitarians: A History of American Public Health. Urbana and Chicaco: University of Illinois Press. p. 169. ISBN 0-252-06276-0. 
  3. ^ Transactions of the First Annual Conference of State and Territorial Health Officers with the United States Public Health and Marine-Hospital Service. Washington: Government Printing Office. 1903. 
  4. ^ "The Social Security Act of 1935". U.S. Social Security Administration. Retrieved March 3, 2013.