Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)

What are the federal government’s role and key activities related to public health? Select one of the 11 operating divisions of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and describe their mission/purpose. Discuss an example of a public health service they provide. How does this differ from the role and function of local and state health departments?


One of the functions of the Federal Government in public health is to develop laws and policies on public health issues. The Congress is the federal arm of the government and makes laws, including public health laws. For example, some laws direct the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to report on diseases. The Congress develops the laws and policies that affect the health of the public and apply to all the states (Gostin & Wiley, 2016).

The federal government is also responsible for financing public health programs. The federal government has developed federal bodies on public health, for example, the CDC. The federal government funds the bodies. The CDC develops pubic healthcare programs that the federal government supports through the acquisition of the necessary resources (DHHS, 2018).

The federal government carries out emergency responses to health issues. During the occurrence of public health issues such as the development of an epidemic, the federal government is involved in providing emergency healthcare response services  (DHHS, 2018).

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is an example of the division in the Department of Health and Human Services. The role of FDA is to authorize and monitor the use of medicines and healthcare tools and technologies. The FDA approves the drugs that enter the USA healthcare market and reviews dosages for drugs.  The agency is also responsible for recommending foods that should be consumed in the USA. The FDA controls the manufacturing, marketing, and consumptions of tobacco products to protect the health of the general public (FDA, 2018).

The state and local health departments are only responsible for the healthcare services to the people within the specific state or district. On the other hand, federal DHHS is responsible for the healthcare of all citizens in the USA. State department of health focuses on specific health tissues or population, for example, children’s’ health or mental health (DHHS, 2018).


DHHS. (2018, January 01). hhs.

FDA. (2018, January 01).

Gostin, L. O., & Wiley, L. F. (2016). Public health law: power, duty, restraint. Univ of California Press.