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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 pickups, 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.

Using 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.

By examining past and present events in public health, this free online training from the Public Health Law Academy demonstrates how public health practitioners have used laws and policies to stop the spread of communicable diseases, set minimum wage requirements, establish guidelines and codes for safe housing, and enact other health-promoting innovations. In addition, this training examines how failure to center health equity in such efforts has led to present-day inequities. This module helps health officials and policymakers — those responsible for designing, implementing, and enforcing public health policies — understand how to advance equity-centered laws and policies while balancing 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 the types of laws that government agencies can enact.

This updated training centers health equity with new examples and case studies. It explores how health departments can advance their work amid an evolving legal landscape, balancing their authority to protect the public’s health with the rights of affected individuals. This training will help you . . .

  • Become familiar with the historical events that helped shape the practice of public health law today
  • Understand the constitutional scope and limits of the government’s ability to enact public health regulations
  • Recognize how law affects public health practice and identify ways to use this information to improve health equity and overall community 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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