State health agency

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A state health agency (SHA), or state department of health, is a department or agency of the state governments of the United States focused on public health. The state secretary of health is a constitutional or at times a statutory official in several states of the United States. The position is the chief executive official for the state's state health agency (or equivalent), chief administrative officer for the state's Board of Health (or equivalent), or both.

Following passage of the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974, during the first ten years of the program the state health departments were given new and important roles under the law. Due to new grants available, they had enhanced their programs and had many more resources to oversee and help utilities come into compliance with drinking water standards, and they were able to develop other related activities like the capacity for doing risk assessments on new contaminants of concern.[1]


Although the vast majority of these agencies are officially called "departments," the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials adopted "state health agency" as the generic term to reflect the fact that a substantial number of these agencies are no longer state "departments" in the traditional sense of a cabinet-level organizational unit dedicated exclusively to public health.[2] During the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, at least 20 states and the District of Columbia merged these departments with other government agencies that provide social services, welfare, or other types of unrelated services.[2] The result is that in those jurisdictions, the state government agency that actually provides public health services is but one of several units inside a large cabinet-level agency.[2]


State health departments have different names and responsibilities; in some states they are top-level administrative agencies, while in other states they are a division or bureau of another office. Health departments are usually responsible for public health, including preventive medicine, epidemiology, vaccinations, environmental health (sometimes including health inspections), and the licensing of health care professionals; the collection and archiving of vital records such as birth and death certificates and sometimes marriage and divorce certificates; health statistics; developmental disabilities; mental health; occupational safety and health; receiving and recording reports of notifiable diseases; and tobacco control.

In some states, state health departments may additionally be responsible for social services and welfare, environmental protection/pollution control, or the operation of the state psychiatric hospital. Some states have a Surgeon General.

State health agencies (SHAs)[edit]

The following are state health agencies as identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:[3]

State SHA Head of health Name Website
Alabama Alabama Department of Public Health State Health Officer Scott Harris, MD, MPH
Alaska Alaska Department of Health and Social Services
Arizona Arizona Department of Health Services
Arkansas Arkansas Department of Health Secretary of Health Nathaniel Smith, MD
California California Health and Human Services Agency
Colorado Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
Connecticut Connecticut Department of Public Health
Florida Florida Department of Health Secretary and Surgeon General Vacant[4]
Georgia Georgia Department of Public Health
Hawaii Hawaii State Department of Health
Idaho Idaho Department of Health and Welfare
Illinois Illinois Department of Public Health
Indiana Indiana Department of Health State Health Commissioner Kristina Box, MD, FACOG[5]
Iowa Iowa Department of Public Health Director Gerd Clabaugh, MPA[6]
Kansas Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary & State Health Officer Robert Moser, MD
Kentucky Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services
Louisiana Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals
Maine Maine Department of Health and Human Services
Maryland Maryland Department of Health
Massachusetts Massachusetts Department of Public Health
Michigan Michigan Department of Community Health
Mississippi Mississippi State Department of Health State Health Officer Daniel Edney, MD, FACP, FASAM
Missouri Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services
Montana Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services
Nebraska Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services
Nevada Nevada Department of Health and Human Services
New Hampshire New Hampshire Department of Health & Human Services
New Jersey New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services
New Mexico New Mexico Department of Health
New York New York State Department of Health
North Carolina North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
North Dakota North Dakota Department of Health
Ohio Ohio Department of Health
Oklahoma Oklahoma State Department of Health State Health Commissioner Dr. Terry Cline
Oregon Oregon Health Authority
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Department of Health
Rhode Island Rhode Island Department of Health
South Carolina South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control
South Dakota South Dakota Department of Health
Tennessee Tennessee Department of Health
Texas Texas Department of State Health Services
Utah Utah Department of Health
Vermont Vermont Department of Health
Virginia Virginia Department of Health
Washington Washington State Department of Health
West Virginia West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources
Wisconsin Wisconsin Department of Health Services
Wyoming Wyoming Department of Health

Further reading[edit]

EPA Alumni Association: Drinking Water, Half Century of Progress – a brief history of U.S. efforts to protect drinking water

See also[edit]


  1. ^ EPA Alumni Association: Senior EPA officials discuss early implementation of the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974, Video, Transcript (see p23).
  2. ^ a b c Jarris, Paul E.; Sellers, Katie (2017). "Chapter 8: The State Public Health Agencies". In Erwin, Paul C.; Brownson, Ross C. (eds.). Scutchfield and Keck's Principles of Public Health Practice (4th ed.). Boston: Cengage. p. 122. ISBN 9781305855717. Retrieved January 16, 2023.
  3. ^ "Public Health Resources: State or Territorial Health Departments". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
  4. ^ "Surgeon General and Secretary - Florida Department of Health".
  5. ^ "State Health Commissioner". State of Indiana. Retrieved November 21, 2022.
  6. ^ "Director's Office".

External links[edit]