Medical officer of health

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Medical Officer for Health)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Medical officer of health, medical health officer or district medical officer, is a title and commonly used for the senior government official of a health department or agency, usually at a municipal, county/district, state/province, or regional level. The post is held by a physician who serves to advise and lead a team of public health professionals such as environmental health officers and public health nurses on matters of public health importance.

The equivalent senior health official at the national level is often referred to as the Chief Medical Officer, although the title varies across countries, for example known as the Surgeon General in the United States and the Chief Public Health Officer in Canada.


In Canada, some provinces like Ontario, have set up legislation so that one individual is named Chief Medical Officer of Health and has powers of guidance and to issue orders.[1] All communities are under the jurisdiction of an MOH;[citation needed] sometimes as in British Columbia the individuals are referred to as Provincial Health Officer and/or Provincial Drinking Water Officer.[2] Some provinces, like Ontario, add a "Chief" to the MOH title.[3] The roles of the MOH vary across jurisdictions, but always include responsibilities related to public health and safety, and may include the following functions:[4]

On 1 May 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, it came to light that the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) for Haldimand County and Norfolk County, both of which lie on the shores of Lake Erie, had issued an order under the Ontario Health Protection and Promotion Act which reads:[3]

You are not permitted to occupy your secondary residence within [my jurisdiction], which includes a rented cottage, vacation home, beach house, chalet, and/or condominium... You are not permitted to allow anyone else to occupy your Secondary Residence within [my jurisdiction].

Norfolk County Council was told that in order to remove the CMOH would require a two-thirds vote from Council along with approval from the provincial government.[3]


In general, a medical officer is one who has a minimum of MBBS degree or MD degree from a recognised medical college and university and his/her name is registered in National Medical Council and in state Medical council. They are posted mainly at primary health centre and community health centres across the country.

United Kingdom[edit]

In the United Kingdom, the municipal position was an elected head of the local board of health, however the term MOH has also been used to refer to the Chief Medical Officer. Under the Metropolis Local Management Act 1855, London municipalities were each required to appoint a medical officer. In 1856, 48 officers took up appointments in the city,[5] and these specialists formed Metropolitan Association of Medical Officers of Health. They were important and influential in the establishment of municipal hospitals under the provisions of the Local Government Act 1929.[6] In the 1974 NHS reorganisation they were replaced by Community Physicians who were attached to the different levels of the NHS.


United States[edit]

Health officer is a common term used in the United States for public health officials, such as medical health officers and environmental health officers. They may serve at the global, federal, state, county, or municipal level.[citation needed]

The end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st saw major issues for health officials and health officers include tobacco control,[9] injury prevention, public health surveillance, disease control, access to health care, health equity, health disparities, cultural competence, access to preventive services such as immunizations and health promotion.[10][11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Some Ontario businesses can reopen on Monday — if they can comply with safety rules". National Post, a division of Postmedia Network Inc. 1 May 2020.
  2. ^ "Office of the Provincial Health Officer --> Biographies". Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  3. ^ a b c "Outrage, secrecy, confusion: Medical officer of health orders summer cottagers away". National Post, a division of Postmedia Network Inc. 1 May 2020.
  4. ^ Role of the Medical Officer of Health. Archived 2012-01-01 at the Wayback Machine Health Canada, accessed 16 January 2012.
  5. ^ Anne Hardy (1993). The Epidemic Streets: Infectious Disease and the Rise of Preventive Medicine. p. 4. ISBN 0-19-820377-2.
  6. ^ Levene, Alysa; Powell, Martin; Stewart, John (January 2006). "The Development of Municipal General Hospitals in English County Boroughs in the 1930s". Medical History. 1 (50): 3–28. doi:10.1017/s002572730000942x. PMC 1369011. PMID 16502869.
  7. ^ a b c d Anne Hardy (2003). "Public health and the expert: the London Medical Officers of Health, 1856–1900". Government and Expertise: Specialists, Administrators and Professionals. ISBN 0-521-53450-X.
  8. ^ English, Mary P. (1990). English, M.P. 1990. Victorian values. The life and times of Dr. Edwin Lankester, M.D., F.R.S. ISBN 0-948737-14-X.
  9. ^ Nitzkin JL, Rodu B, 2008. The case for harm reduction for control of tobacco-related illness and death. Archived 2010-05-10 at the Wayback Machine Resolution and White Paper, American Association of Public Health Physicians. Adopted October 26, 2008.
  10. ^ "Center for Minority Health /UPitt". Archived from the original on August 7, 2008. Retrieved August 21, 2008.
  11. ^ "AAPHP E news and bulletins". Archived from the original on February 11, 2009. Retrieved August 21, 2009.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]