The Department of Health and Human Services

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) oversees federal programs focused on social justice, health, welfare, income security and income support. HHS agencies conduct medical research, monitor food and drug safety as well as enforce congressional legislation designed to help Americans gain and retain health insurance coverage.

HHS serves as a hub for global partnerships and diplomacy, led by its Secretary. HHS advises the president on plans, policies and programs related to health, welfare and income security for federal programs.

Social Services

Social Services within the Department of Health and Human Services strive to enhance people’s lives and communities by improving access to basic resources. These social services may include public education, housing assistance or mental health counseling services.

Community leadership and coordinating entities, like advisory groups and collaboratives, play an essential role in meeting social service needs within communities. Such entities often include multiple social service providers and other community stakeholders as members.

Disaster response entities need to work closely with other social service organizations and coordinate on recovery issues that arise after mass events, while potentially finding sources of federal funds that support local social services efforts post-disaster.

Appendix C details various federal programs intended to provide temporary shelter and mass care in times of disaster. These initiatives aim to meet both victims’ individual needs as well as ongoing psychosocial/behavioral health support services.

Public Health

Public health aims to protect and enhance people’s wellbeing, from preventing disease to encouraging healthy lifestyles and communities, to responding quickly in cases of emergencies.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) operates numerous programs designed to promote and protect public health. HHS offers numerous human services as well as conducting vital lifesaving research that benefits Americans nationwide.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is headed by its Secretary who is appointed by the president. Additionally, there are assistant secretaries within HHS as well as key departmental administrators to support her duties.

Food Safety

Food safety is a multilayered issue requiring participation by many different individuals, agencies, and organizations. The government plays an essential role in setting and enforcing standards and regulations which promote safe preparation and handling of foods.

The government is responsible for overseeing surveillance and investigation of communicable diseases, outbreaks, and foodborne illness caused by specific pathogens like Salmonella, Shigella, Campylobacter, and E. coli 0157: H7.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducts national foodborne disease surveillance by collecting data on illnesses and outbreaks to provide public health officials and private industry with vital insights. Furthermore, they strengthen state and local health departments’ capacities to collect, investigate and report cases/outbreaks of foodborne diseases.

FDA and USDA are responsible for inspecting meat, poultry, eggs, fresh cut produce and processed food items to ensure they fall below legal levels for chemicals, environmental contaminants and animal drugs. Furthermore, FDA provides technical advice regarding HACCP matters to processors of other types of foods beyond meat, poultry and eggs.

Health Care

The Department of Health and Human Services is a federal government branch with the goal of improving the wellbeing of Americans by offering various programs designed to support science, care, social services, and preventative services.

HHS collaborates with several private sectors, such as regulated industries, academia and research institutions to fulfill its mission of safeguarding public health while providing essential human services.

The Department works closely with tribal governments, Indian organizations and tribal groups to facilitate consultation and coordination on issues that have an impact on tribal health, social or economic development. This can include issues related to health care delivery systems.

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