Comparison of Healthcare Agencies


Public health refers to the science and art of averting diseases, extending life, and promoting health via the implementation of organized efforts and informed choices by the public, associations, public and private communities, and the individual persons (Institute of Medicine, 1988). The field is concerned with the general health of the society that is based on the population health study. The society in consideration ranges from a small group of people to a large populace of people who may occupy several continents in such cases as in the rise of a pandemic. In general, public health is categorized into three fields: Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Health Services; Environmental, Behavioral, Social, and Occupational Health form the significant public health subfields.

Public health is characterized by two distinct policies: it mainly entails preventative rather than curative measures of health and concerns itself with the population rather than with the individual level health issues (Orme et al., 2007). Public health is mainly focused on the prevention of diseases rather than treatment via the surveillance of health-threatening cases and encouragement of healthy manners. Furthermore, the prevention of a disease may be vital to its treatment such as in cases of infectious diseases that spread rapidly. Various activities are undertaken by health care organizations such as vaccinations, hand washing campaigns, and the circulation of condoms.

The major objective of public health is the promotion of healthy lives by preventing and treating diseases. Within the framework of the United Nations’ World Health Organization, health is defined as “a state of absolute physical, mental and social wellness and not simply the deficiency of sickness or ill-health (World Health Organization, 2010). This is a comprehensive definition and the United States endeavors to promote the health of its citizens by the World Health Organization Standards. To achieve this, various public health institutions have been established at different levels: the county, state, and public health resources.

State Public Health Agency: Arkansas Department of Health

The origin of the Arkansas Department of Health can be documented from 1832 when the initial city board of health was established. The board in Arkansas had been established by Little Rock’s urban committee. The Arkansas Department of Health had persistently suffered from the problem of disease and disability prevention. The number of people who succumbed to yellow fever in Mississippi valley in 1878 was relatively low compared to the preceding periods; however, despite the reduced deaths from the pandemic, it acted as a catalyst to the creation of the initial official state of the health board in 1881. However, the board collapsed due to a lack of funds. When the Legislature shifted from the conventional State House to the present capitol building, a lasting state board of health was established during the first session that took place in 1913. The board was comprised of seven appointed members all of who were physicians and they occupied the vacated facility that was located on Markham Street (Arkansas Department of Health, 2010). Ever since the board has been the overall body in the state that is charged with the responsibility of supervising all the public health activities in the state.

The board has undertaken various tasks after its formation. Immediately after its inception, the board focused its resources on smallpox eradication. This resulted in the government implementing measures for the establishment of programs that aimed at improving sanitation standards at homes and in schools; furthermore, measures were implemented to eradicate malaria by eradicating mosquitoes. In 1918, Arkansas became the first state that made it compulsory for all children of school-going age to be vaccinated for smallpox. During the First World War, thousands of Arkansas citizens were unable to join the Army since they were infected with venereal diseases; the board initiated spirited education campaigns against venereal diseases. With assistance from the private sector and the federal government, the board initiated water inspection and mandated sanitary requirements that led to the elimination of Typhoid fever. After World War II, the board concentrated its efforts and resources in the creation and adoption of modern technology to improve the efficiency of its operations Furthermore, the board has developed anti-poverty programs that are targeted at the needs of the poor and new social networks that have shaped the direction of public health and increased the public health coverage (Arkansas Department of Health, 2010).

National Public Health Agency: United States Public Health Service:

The historical origin of Public Health Service can be followed from the enactment of the 1978 Act; the Act was passed to ensure that ailing and injured commercial seamen received appropriate care and attention. The earliest marine hospitals were located along the East Coast and Boston was the location for the first such facility. The restructuring that was conducted in 1870 resulted in the creation of a locally managed Marine Hospital Service; the head office of the hospital was located in Washington. The Public Health Commissioned Corps was created by a regulation that was enacted in 1889; it was solely comprised of physicians. However, in the 20th century, it developed to integrate other health professionals such as dentists, nursing physicians, pharmacists, scientists, and health care professionals.

Furthermore, the organization’s scope of activities started to expand beyond the care for commercial seamen as the 20th century came to a close. The organization commenced the control of infectious diseases. In the beginning, the states were mandated by the constitution to undertake quarantines; nevertheless, the adoption of the National Quarantine Act of 1878 placed the obligation on the Marine Hospice Service and the National Board of Health; unfortunately, the National Board of Health collapsed creating a monopoly in the implementation of the Act. Over the following decades, the Marine Hospice Service speedily took the quarantine function away from the state bodies.

As immigrants increasingly entered the United States in the late 19th century, it became necessary for the government to implement more stringent measures for scrutinizing immigrants for any form of the disease. Thus, the government shifted the inspection and processing of immigrants away from the state governments to the national level. The responsibility of conducting a medical inspection on the immigrants was handed over to the Marine Hospice Service. The officials of the statutory institution played a significant task in their responsibilities to avert any form of disease penetrating the United States. Due to the expansion of the Service’s activities, its name changed to the Public Health Service in 1912. The body continued to expand its provision of public health services as the nation progressed into the 20th century. The body expanded its operations to include: the control of the spread of contagious diseases, carrying out of crucial biomedical research, regulation of food and drugs supply, and the provision of health care to the underprivileged groups among other critical activities (Department of Health and Human Services, n.d.).


In conclusion, the above discussion portrays the distinction between public and community health. Public health is primarily concerned with the health of the nation in general. The United States Public Health Service is charged with the responsibility of preserving the health of the entire populace of the United States. On the other hand, community health is concerned with the health of the members of a certain community. The Arkansas Department of Health is concerned with the health of the members of the Arkansas city.


Arkansas Department of Health. (2010). About the Arkansas Department of Health. Web.

Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). About HHS. Web.

Institute of Medicine. (1988). The Future of Public Health. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

Orme, J., Powell, J., Taylor, P. & Grey, M. (2007). Public Health for the 21st Century. (2nd ed.). Maidenhead: Open University Press.

World Health Organization. (2010). Web.

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