The Illinois Department of Public Health Agency and Its Role

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Public health involves a very broad range of services that impact many societies throughout the country. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is comprised of various fundamental programs that provide community services such as vaccinations, food, water and drug safety, health care licensing, infectious disease control, statistical health analyses, genetic screening, and programs for special health needs of women. All these systems put together allow the IDPH system to assume major responsibility for the quality of life in Illinois.

The Illinois Department of Public Health Agency and its Role IDPH - 1800's
The State Board of Health was established in 1877 and, for the first time, public health became a permanent responsibility of the state government. The board was responsible for regulating the practice of medicine and promoting sanitation to control and prevent disease. The first issues dealt by the department were the outbreaks of smallpox, polio and tuberculosis, and unsanitary water and milk supplies. After an outbreak of yellow fever in Cairo, the state set up quarantines to assess the development and spread of dangerously infectious diseases. For its first two years of operation, the board received a funding of $5,000 (IDPH, 2006). In November of 1881, the State Board of Health ordered that every child that attended public schools in Illinois after Jan. 1, 1882, must show "proper and successful" vaccination of smallpox. Because of the large influx of immigrants, The Division of Hotel and Lodging House Inspection was created to ensure rooming houses complied with the standards for minimum air space and sanitation and for maximum capacity (IDPH, 2006). IDPH - 1900-1950

Sanitation and hygiene were addressed during the first Better Baby Conference during the 1915 Illinois State Fair where 250 children were examined for proper care. And in 1916, Illinois reported 1,000 cases of polio with 236 deaths the following year, however, it is estimated only 30% of cases were actually reported. By November, 1918 the influenza virus and pneumonia had caused 8,510 deaths in Chicago. The State Board of Health became the State Department of Public Health in 1917 and Morgan County established the first full-time county health department in May, 1922 (IDPH, 2006). In 1931, the Illinois Department of Public Health regulated public swimming pools by requiring the facilities to manage potential hazards such as drowning, diving accidents, falls on wet surfaces and disease transmission from contaminated water by enforcing minimum sanitary requirements for the design, construction and operation of their swimming pools. Several years later, during the winter of 1937, thousands of homes were alerted by the Illinois Department of Public Health of the ensuing flood. Before the flood broke, engineers were sent to protect the public and its water supplies (IDPH, 2006). In 1942, the Illinois Department of Public Health joined the Emergency Maternity and Infant Care program. This nationwide program provided free medical care to eligible pregnant women and babies and was funded entirely by the U.S. Children's Bureau. By July 17, 1945, the IDPH created The Nursing Home Care Act which ensured that Nursing Home facilities standards stayed within the minimum for location, construction, personnel, sanitation and diet. Fluoridation of the public water supply was backed on February 23, 1945 in order to prevent tooth decay, specifically in children (IDPH, 2006). IDPH - 1950-2000

Upon approval by the federal government of the safe and effective polio vaccine, the Illinois legislature financed $1 million to the IDPH for the purchase and free distribution of the Salk vaccine on April 12, 1955. Mandatory testing for phenylketonuria (PKU) of all newborn infants was implemented in April, 1965 and its rules and regulations were distributed to all health care facilities, personnel, and other interested groups and individuals in the state. In 1966,...
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