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Public Health 101

Public Health describes the system and efforts of government, social and private organizations focused on protecting, promoting and restoring the health of a society. The public health system works towards keeping whole communities healthy. Many types of organizations have a part in public health.

Everyday, without even realizing it, almost every person has contact with the public health system. If you:

  • used indoor running water and sanitation
  • used a seat belt
  • ate at a restaurant
  • shopped at a grocery store
  • saw a ‘No Smoking’ sign
  • read about the clean-up of environmental waste
  • heard a news story about preparing for biological or chemical terrorism
  • took vitamin supplements
  • used sunscreen
  • drank pasteurized milk or juice
  • took your child for an immunization
  • went swimming in a public pool or lake
  • ate a healthy diet and exercised
    …you benefited from the work of public health professionals!

Government provides public health services at the federal, state and local levels. The National Association of County & City Health Officials (NACCHO) describes 10 Essential Functions all local health departments should perform. To view and/or download this document, click on the following link:

pdf  NACCHO Operational Definition of a functional local health department

In the State of Connecticut, local public health services may be provided by a part-time municipal health department, a full-time municipal health department or a health district. A health district is formed when 2 or more municipalities choose to consolidate their local public health functions.

There are currently 20 local health districts in the state, serving over 40% of the state population. Ledge Light Health District is one of these districts – serving East Lyme, Groton, Ledyard, New London and Waterford.

The benefits of managing public health on a regional level include:

  • economic efficiencies for the municipalities
  • uniform and consistent enforcement of the state public health code and regulations
  • uniform and consistent costs
  • the ability to provide the full range of public health functions to all residents
  • a fully trained and certified staff
  • 24/7 coverage for emergencies
  • the ability to address concerns across town lines.