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Advance equity in public health practice with law and policy tools
Law and policy play a large role in enabling and exacerbating deeply-rooted inequities. Public health departments are well-positioned to use the tools of law and policy to improve health equity in their communities.
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How can law and policy help health departments promote health equity?

Public health departments are in a unique position to advance health equity and address the social determinants of health (SDOH) using the tools of law and policy. Health practitioners can use law and policy in their day-to-day work and as they engage with communities and other government partners to address health disparities. To confront structural discrimination and identify policy solutions that are equitable, practitioners need to know about creating, implementing, and enforcing public health laws.

Fundamental administrative law knowledge includes:


Having a foundational understanding of administrative law.

You can explain what administrative law is and why it is important for health department staff to understand.


Knowing how to promote health equity in day-to-day activities.

You can use equity-centered rulemaking or equitable implementation and enforcement of public health programs.


Understanding and working within legal powers and limits.

You can navigate legal barriers and avoid having public health regulations challenged in court.


Knowing how to engage community members.

You can use processes for regulatory activities that are fair, equitable, and accessible to everyone.

Start with the Administrative Law & Health Equity Series

Our 3-part series on creating, implementing, and enforcing public health laws was designed for individuals working in or with public health departments in all areas of practice and on all types of regulatory activities.

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Deepen your technical skill set with our free certificate program

Our training plan covers fundamental public health law concepts and explores the integral role of law in the everyday practice of public health. Enroll in the plan through CDC TRAIN, watch the trainings, and earn your certificate of completion.

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Explore Hot Topics in Public Health Law

We’ve curated a collection of trainings about how public health law evolves in in response to health crises. Learn more through real-life scenarios and current public health challenges that demonstrate the ways that law and policy influence health outcomes.

Go deeper with the Legal Epidemiology Series

Legal epidemiology is a scientific approach to tracking laws and policies of public health importance and studying their impact and effectiveness. This field of transdisciplinary public health law can help answer many important questions about the impact of law on health. Legal epidemiology is one tool that health departments and organizations can use to learn and communicate about the critical relationship between law and health.

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See our legal epidemiology resources for practitioners
This list of resources that supplement our 3-part Legal Epidemiology series has been curated for practitioners in state, tribal, local, and territorial (STLT) health departments.
Legal Epi Cohort
Apply for our Legal Epidemiology Learning Cohort

Our learning cohort is designed to enable any health department or organization to build their capacity to carry out legal epidemiology projects, even with minimal previous experience or skills. This opportunity will open again in 2024.

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