Organization to accredit public health departments

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State, local, and tribal health departments will be able to seek accreditation through a program supported by federal health authorities and a philanthropic organization focused on human health.

The Public Health Accreditation Board has tested a preliminary accreditation program with 30 health departments, and information from the board indicates health departments should be able to seek accreditation starting in September. The board is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

"The program will improve the quality of services delivered by public health agencies as they work toward accreditation and, when they attain accreditation, reassure the public and officials that their health department is a peak performer," a CDC announcement states. "For a public health department to be accredited, it must meet stringent requirements for 10 essential areas of public health activities respectively and demonstrate a commitment to constant improvement."

Liza Corso, acting branch chief for the Agency and Systems Improvement Branch of the CDC's Office for State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Support, said the board is currently revising the preliminary accreditation program. She expects that the program will show public health departments how they are benefiting their communities and where they can improve.

Corso said the CDC and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation began working in 2004 to determine whether they should support such a national accreditation program. Those efforts led to creation of the Public Health Accreditation Board in 2007, and the CDC and Foundation have worked with and financially supported the board.

Information from the board states that accreditation standards will be based on administrative capacity and governance as well as specified essential services.