10 Essential Public Health Services


Investigate, diagnose, and address population health problems and hazards

Public Health is responsible for investigating, diagnosing, and addressing health problems and hazards. Case surveillance is a foundational practice through which this occurs; it begins when a case is confirmed, or a person is diagnosed with a disease or condition that poses a serious health threat, for example, tuberculosis or COVID-19. Public health agencies at local, state, or national levels collect information about the reportable disease, and work with healthcare providers, laboratories, hospitals, and other partners to monitor, control, and prevent disease.

Equity & Systems

Public health surveillance systems can prioritize equity by:

  • Engaging communities when developing or modifying data collection tools
  • Improving the collection of equity-related data
  • Considering indigenous data, sovereignty principles, and identity protection

Public Health in Action

Healthcare providers are required to report serious diseases and conditions, like COVID-19 and chlamydia cases, to state and local public health officials. This information helps Public Health understand disease prevalence and spread to control outbreaks. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, public health entities gathered data from hospitals, health departments, and providers to develop data resources to monitor and control COVID-19 transmission.


    Develop a flexible data pipeline to receive case data and simplify case reporting and other case surveillance modernization strategies

    Adhere to international ethical guidelines on surveillance to eliminate privacy, discrimination, and stigmatization concerns

    Use emerging tools to improve data availability, quality, and timeliness

    Reflection Questions

    • What additional sectors or community groups might Public Health collaborate with during a disease outbreak?
    • How can Public Health advance equity as part of surveillance activities?
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