Definition of Department of Health and Human Services
Department of Health and Human Services: The United States government's principal agency for "protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves." Also known as DHHS and HHS.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has two types of operating divisions: the Human Services and the Public Health Service Operating Divisions. The Public Health Service Operating Divisions include the:
- National Institutes of Health -- NIH is the world's premier medical research organization, supporting some 35,000 research projects nationwide in diseases like cancer, Alzheimer's, diabetes, arthritis, heart ailments and AIDS. It includes 17 separate health institutes, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the National Library of Medicine and the National Center for Human Genome Research. Established: 1887, as the Hygienic Laboratory, Staten Island, N.Y. Headquarters: Bethesda, MD.
- Food and Drug Administration -- FDA assures the safety of foods and cosmetics, and the safety and efficacy of pharmaceuticals, biological products and medical devices -- products which represent 25 cents out of every dollar in U.S. consumer spending. Established: 1906. Headquarters: Rockville, MD.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- Working with states and other partners, CDC provides a system of health surveillance to monitor and prevent outbreak of diseases, and maintains national health statistics. Provides for immunization services. Guards against international disease transmission, with CDC personnel stationed in more than 25 foreign countries. Supports research into disease and injury prevention. Established: 1946, as the Communicable Disease Center. Headquarters: Atlanta, GA.
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry -- Working with states and other federal agencies, ATSDR seeks to prevent exposure to hazardous substances from waste sites. The agency conducts public health assessments, health studies, surveillance activities, and health education training in communities around waste sites on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's National Priorities List. ATSDR also has developed toxicological profiles of hazardous chemicals found at these sites. Established: 1980. Headquarters: Atlanta, GA.
- Indian Health Service -- The IHS has 37 hospitals, 60 health centers, 3 school health centers, and 46 health stations. It also assists 34 urban Indian health centers. Services are provided to nearly 1.5 million American Indians and Alaska Natives of 557 Federally recognized tribes through a workforce of approximately 14,500 employees and an additional tribal and urban Indian health workforce of approximately 10,000. Annually there are about 90,000 hospital admissions and 7 million outpatient visits, 4 million community health representative client contacts, and 2.4 million dental services. Established: 1924 (mission transferred from the Interior Department in 1955.) Headquarters: Rockville, MD.
- Health Resources and Services Administration -- HRSA helps provide health resources for medically underserved populations. A nationwide network of 643 community and migrant health centers, plus 144 primary care programs for the homeless and residents of public housing, serve 8.1 million Americans each year. HRSA also works to build the health care workforce and maintains the National Health Service Corps. Provides services to people with AIDS through the Ryan White CARE Act programs. Oversees the organ transplantation system. Works to decrease infant mortality and improve and child health. Established: 1982, bringing together several already-existing programs. Headquarters: Rockville, MD.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration -- SAMHSA works to improve the quality and availability of substance abuse prevention, addiction treatment, and mental health services. Provides funding through block grants to states for direct substance abuse and mental health services, including treatment for over 340,000 Americans with serious substance abuse problems. Helps improve substance abuse treatment through its Knowledge Development and Applications grant program. Monitors prevalence and incidence of substance abuse and mental illness. Established: 1992. (A predecessor agency, the Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration, was established in 1974.) Headquarters: Rockville, MD.
- Agency for Health Care Policy and Research -- AHCPR supports cost-cutting research on health care systems, health care quality and cost issues, and effectiveness of medical treatments. Established: 1989. Headquarters: Rockville, MD.
Last Editorial Review: 6/14/2012