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Public Health Law: Past & Present

A Public Health Law Academy training

Good Governance

Before there were regular street cleanings and trash pick-up, garbage and filth accumulated on the streets and alleyways of big cities. Diseases like tuberculosis, dysentery, and cholera were rampant. In 1850, the average age of death in New York City was younger than 21.

However, through the use of laws and policies, public health practitioners of the 19th and 20th centuries turned these trends around. This legacy of using legal tools to ensure the health and well-being of people and their communities continues today.

Laws and policies stop the spread of communicable disease, ensure that our food is safe for consumption, shape our transportation infrastructure, establish guidelines and codes for safe housing, and much more. Equally important, however, are our civil liberties. Public health officials and policymakers — those responsible for designing, implementing, and enforcing these policies — must always take into account the rights of affected individuals. Preview the content of our full-length training by watching this video short about public health law authority and this video short about types of laws.

This training will help you

  • become familiar with the historical events that helped shape the practice of public health law today;
  • understand the constitutional limitations on the government’s ability to enact public health regulations; and
  • recognize how law affects public health practice and identify ways to use this information to improve the practice of public health.

If you are a TRAIN user, please register for this course through TRAIN. To learn more about earning the Public Health Law Academy Certificate of completion, see the complete training plan.

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