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Understanding the Role of the Office of Public Health and Science

The Office of Public Health and Science (OPHS) is a subdivision of the Office of the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Under the leadership of the Assistant Secretary for Health, the OPHS manages several different public health offices, sub-agencies, councils, and advisory committees that operate under the auspices of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), including the:

In addition, through the Office of the United States Surgeon General, the OPHS directs the activities of the Public Health Commissioned Corps, a uniformed service of the United States government, and the Medical Reserve Corps. The OPHS also serves as the umbrella agency for the nation's Regional Health Administrators, whose offices function as local arms of the HHS and OPHS throughout the country. The OPHS has a distinctly interdisciplinary focus; its primary role is to coordinate resources from throughout HHS in the fields of public health and science and provide leadership in HHS initiatives and interventions in these areas. The head of the OPHS, the Assistant Secretary for Health, serves as a chief advisor to the Secretary of HHS with respect to matters of public health and scientific research relating to health matters.

Inside the Office of Public Health and Science (OPHS):

The Office of Public Health and Science (OPHS) supervises Regional Health Administrators in ten regions throughout the United States. In addition, the OPHS leads several initiatives related to using science and scientific research to improve and protect public health. These initiatives include an action plan to prevent health care-associated infections, the development of a toolkit for the improvement of influenza vaccination rates among health care personnel, the direction of an inter-agency work group to improve the health of individuals suffering from multiple chronic conditions, and participation in the Public Health System, Finance, and Quality Program.   

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS): The Parent Agency of the Office of Public Health and Science:

The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is a cabinet-level department and executive agency of the federal government. It is charged with promoting, improving, and protecting the health of the American public and with providing services essential to the overall well-being of the citizenry, particularly the needy, the disabled, the elderly, and other vulnerable populations. The Office of Public Health and Science is the primary subdivision of the department, but HHS is also responsible for overseeing the:

Look to the following for more information on the department of Health and Human Services:

Subordinate Offices and Agencies of the Office of Public Health and Science (OPHS):

The Office of Public Health and Science (OPHS) manages a number of sub-agencies, offices, public health programs and initiatives, regional health administrations, advisory committees, and presidential councils that deal with a range of issues relating to public health and scientific research, from disease prevention to health concerns of minorities and women to research integrity and bioethics to HIV/AIDS policy to physical fitness. 

The Office of Public Health also oversees the Office of the Surgeon General, the Public Health Commissioned Corps, and the Medical Reserve Corps. Look to the following for more detailed information:


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