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Application of Law in the Public Health Sector

The matter surrounding the purpose of legislation in public health practice has been documented for the longest time now and has been evident throughout the U.S. history. In particular, the proponents of public health law has suggested that it serves a fundamental role in defining and delineating the objectives of primary public health bodies, delimiting and authorizing health roles, as well as appropriating essential health funds. However, according to Moulton et al. (2009), the role and scope of the public health law are evolving just like everything else. Therefore, this paper primarily seeks to explore why legislation is a critical element in public health, describe and assess the different forms of public health law, examine The Ten Essential Public Health Services, and identify two components that clearly mention law, legislation, or policy.

Why Law is a Fundamental Component in the Practices Involving Public Health

Burris (n.d.) argues that law is a critical ingredient that plays a crucial duty in the attainment of public health goals, setting the foundation for administrational public health activities. In essence, this means that the law defines and demarcates key public health agencies’ objectives, roles, and missions, such as the HHS, the CDC, the FDA, U.S. Public Health Services, and many others. They also delimit and authorize the ten major public health functions and services, such as diagnosing and investigating diseases and health hazards in society, monitoring the health status to point out and address community health problems, mobilizing community partnerships, creating strategies and policies to aid both individual or community health endeavors, and so on. Burris (n.d.) argues that ‘law’ in the public health infrastructure is paramount since it works, with all the major healthcare achievements between 1900 and 1999 been linked with law, including vaccination, family planning, the use of safer and healthier foods, the creation of healthier and secure workplaces, and many others. More so, the law defines how essential funds are allocated and appropriated for health reasons.

The Categories of Public Health Legislation/Law

The three major public health legislation/law categories are infrastructural, interventional, and incidental. Firstly, interventional public health legislation/law is meant to influence health mediators or outcomes. On the other hand, the incidental public health legislation/law is defined as the regulations influencing public health, irrespective of their purpose or topic. An excellent example is zoning and environmental laws, which are not designed to directly impact public health, but, one way or the other, can help shape the well-being of communities. Lastly, infrastructural public health legislation/laws are the regulations that delineate and create the structure, responsibilities, and power of key public health departments, organizations, or agencies, such as the CDC, HHS, Medicaid, and so on.

The two Things on the Ten Essentials Public Health Services List that Clearly Refer to Legislation, Policy, or Law

Even though almost all of The 10 Essential Public Health Services items listed, in one way or the other, are linked with law, legislation, or policy, the two things that explicitly refer to legislation, according to the CDC (n.d.), are items five (develop and design plans, strategies, and policies that help individual and/or community health attempts) and six (implement regulations and laws that safeguard the wellbeing and guarantee public safety). An excellent example that explicitly shows how legislation assists in creating programs, plans, and policies that aid both individual and community health efforts is the Medicaid program’s establishment. This project is funded by the federal government in collaboration with individual states and helps lower healthcare costs for people with limited income as well as resources. In particular, this policy is created under Section 153 of the 2008 MIPPA (The Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act), which is multi-faceted legislation comprising of many critical provisions that boost the funding of several programs, including Medicaid, Medicare, Area  Agencies on Aging, and so on. MIPPA is an improvement of the Social Security Act.


Burris, S. (n.d.). Module 02: Legal infrastructure – Part 1: The importance of law in the public health infrastructure. Vimeopro. Retrieved from

CDC. (n.d.). The public health system & the 10 Essential Public Health Services. Retrieved from

Moulton, A. D., et al. (2009). The scientific basis for law as a public health tool. American Journal of Public Health, 99(1), 17-24.


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Before you begin this assignment, read through the Home page and the required readings. Specifically, view The legal infrastructure of public health


This video is part of Public Health Learning Modules project funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and developed by Temple University Department of Public Health and the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research as a free teaching resource for public health professionals.



For this component of the Session Long Project, you will describe the legal infrastructure of public health. Your task is to submit a paper that responds to the following questions:

  • Explain why law is a crucial part of public health practice.
  • Identify and describe the three types of public health law.
  • Identify two items on the list of the Ten Essentials Public Health Services that explicitly refer to law or policy.
    Length: 2–3 pages.

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