American Public Health Association

views updated May 08 2018


The American Public Health Association (APHA) is the largest association of public health professionals in the world. The organization represents all of the many disciplines that contribute to contemporary public health practice. APHA's policies are determined by a 250-member Governing Council and its ongoing activities and operations are governed by a 21-member Executive Board. There were over 55,000 members in 1999. The APHA is organized in the following Sections and Special Primary Interest Groups.


  1. Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs
  2. Chiropractic Health Care
  3. Community Health Planning and Policy Development
  4. Environment
  5. Epidemiology
  6. Food and Nutrition
  7. Gerontological Health
  8. Health Administration
  9. Injury Control and Emergency Services
  10. International Health
  11. Laboratory
  12. Maternal and Child Health
  13. Medical Care
  14. Mental Health
  15. Occupational Health and Safety
  16. Oral Health
  17. Podiatric Health
  18. Population, Family Planning and Reproductive Health
  19. Public Health Education and Health Promotion
  20. Public Health Nursing
  21. School Health Education and Services
  22. Social Work
  23. Statistics
  24. Vision Care


  1. Alternative and Complementary Health Practices
  2. Disability Forum
  3. Forum on Bioethics
  4. Health Law Forum
  6. Community Health Worker
  7. Radiological Health
  8. Veterinary Public Health

The APHA was founded in 1872, at a time when scientific advances were helping to reveal the causes of communicable diseases. These discoveries laid the foundation for the public health profession and for the infrastructure to support its work. From its inception, the APHA was dedicated to improving the health of all residents of the United States. The APHA's founders recognized that two of the association's most important functions were advocacy for adoption by the government of the most current scientific advances relevant to public health, and public education on how to improve community health. Along with these efforts, the APHA has also campaigned for the development of well-organized health departments at both the federal and the local level.

In the years since its founding, the APHA has continued to search for and support those policies and practices that are most likely to improve the health of the public. The APHA has played a prominent advocacy role on many issues, including assuring the availability of clean air and water, creating a safe and nutritious food supply, guiding people to adopt healthy lifestyles, monitoring the environment for adverse effects on human health, guaranteeing comprehensive and appropriate maternal and child health services, expediting the full immunization of the population against vaccine-preventable diseases, and facilitating the development of safe work environments.

APHA continues its dedication to the resolution of public health issues and concerns as they arise. The association's headquarters, located in Washington, DC, provides ready access to the country's major policymakers for APHA's advocacy and public policy efforts. APHA's fifty-two state affiliates, including two for California and one each for New York City and Washington, DC, serve to connect it with public health issues at the local level. Included in the APHA membership are all of the fifty currently recognized disciplines that contribute to public health practice. The large majority of APHA members pursue their special interests through one or more of the association's twenty-four Sections and eight Special Primary Interest Groups.

In recognition of the international dimension of many diseases, APHA adopted global health as part of its mission in 1996. This effort was expedited by the fact that the APHA is an active member of, and serves as the executive secretariat for, the World Federation of Public Health Associations (WFPHA), through which it is involved in public health concerns of WFPHA's sixty member countries. APHA also actively participates in the activities of the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization.

In addition to the development of and advocacy for public health policies and programs, the APHA engages in a number of other activities. For example, the APHA supports the enhancement of the scientific base of public health through reports of its members' research activities at its annual meetings.

The APHA has played a major role in providing continuing education for all public health workers through accredited educational sessions, journal-based educational opportunities, and distance-based educational sessions.

The association publishes the American Journal of Public Health, which is a refereed journal, and a number of scientific books and monographs on public health issues. Its members are kept informed about major health-related issues through the news publication, the Nation's Health.

The APHA is currently focusing its efforts on assuring access to basic health care and preventive services for all U.S. residents, enhancing collaboration with other professional organizations, and developing public-private partnerships to help solve public health problems.

Mohammad Akhter

(see also: Careers in Public Health; Council on Education for Public Health; International Health; Research in Health Departments )


Bernstein, N. R. (1972). The First One Hundred Years: Essays on the History of the American Public Health Association. Washington, DC: American Public Health Association.

Johnson, N. (2000). "The Journal: New Chapter, New Century." American Journal of Public Health 90:1922.

Levy, B. S. (1998). "1997 Presidential Address. Creating the Future of Public Health: Values, Vision, and Leadership." American Journal of Public Health 86:188.

American Public Health Association

views updated May 21 2018

American Public Health Association

The American Public Health Association (APHA) is an association of individuals and organizations working to improve the public's health and to achieve equity in health status for all. Founded in 1872, APHA is the oldest and largest organization of public health professionals in the world. APHA members represent over fifty occupations of public health, including physicians, nurses, health educators, community dietitians, social workers, environmentalists, epidemiologists, and others. Members advocate for policies and practices that assure a healthy global society, emphasize health promotion and disease prevention, and seek to protect environmental and community health by addressing issues such as pollution control, chronic and infectious diseases , and the availability of professional education in public health.

Marie Boyle Struble

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American Public Health Association