Who is Eligible?

Lynn Howard Jerie Reid copy copy

Who is Eligible?

The governmental entity that has the primary statutory or legal responsibility for public health in a Tribe, state, territory, or at the local level is eligible to apply for accreditation. Such entities must operate in a manner consistent with applicable federal, Tribal, state, territorial, and local statutes. A health department must meet one of the following definitions to apply for PHAB accreditation:

State or Territorial Health Department

For the purposes of PHAB accreditation, a state or territorial health department is defined as the governing entity with primary statutory authority to promote and protect the public’s health and prevent disease in humans. This authority is defined by state or territorial constitution, statutes or regulations, or established by Executive Order. State or territorial health departments may also apply if they are part of an umbrella organization, super public health agency, or super agency that oversees public health functions as well as other government functions. However, PHAB will review and accredit only the public health function of the health department.

Centralized States

A centralized health department is defined, for the purposes of PHAB accreditation, as a state public health organizational structure that operates all or most of the local health departments. Centralized health departments have a central office that provides support, including administrative, policy, and managerial direction. The local health departments in centralized states are organizationally part of the state health department. Employees are state employees, except for those in independent local public health departments, usually in one or more major cities or counties in the state. Where the state or territorial health department operates local and/or regional health department(s), a single local or regional applicant or a number of individual applicants may choose to apply together. Conformity with local-level standards must be demonstrated for each local and/or regional unit.

Categories of centralized state PHAB accreditation applications are:

1. State health department application

2. Local health department application

3. Integrated local public health department system (state health department application for some or all local health departments in the state)

4. District or regional application as a local health department

Local Health Department

A local health department is defined, for the purposes of PHAB accreditation, as the governmental body serving a jurisdiction or group of jurisdictions geographically smaller than a state and recognized as having the primary statutory authority to promote and protect the public’s health and prevent disease in humans. This authority is defined by the state’s constitution, statute, or regulations or established by local ordinance or through formal local cooperative agreement or mutual aid. The entity may be a locally governed health department, a local entity of a centralized state health department, or a city, city-county, county, district, or regional health department.


Entities that meet the PHAB definition of a Tribal or local health department may apply jointly for PHAB accreditation if some essential services are provided by formally sharing resources and the sharing of resources can be clearly demonstrated. The relationship must be that of the health departments working together to deliver services and/or perform functions over the combined jurisdiction. For multi-jurisdictional applications, the partnering health departments, which could be two or more health departments, will apply as a single entity. The business and working relationship of multi-jurisdictional applicants must be well-established and well-defined. Multi-jurisdictional applications must demonstrate a high degree of interdependence in order to be considered a legitimate application.

Tribal Health Department

A Tribal health department is defined, for the purposes of PHAB accreditation, as a federally recognized Tribal government[1], Tribal organization, or inter-Tribal consortium, as defined in the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, as amended. Such departments have jurisdictional authority to provide public health services, as evidenced by constitution, resolution, ordinance, executive order, or other legal means, intended to promote and protect the Tribeʼs overall health, wellness and safety; prevent disease; and respond to issues and events. Federally recognized Tribal governments may carry out the above public health functions in a cooperative manner through formal agreement, formal partnership, or formal collaboration.

1. As evidenced by inclusion on the list of recognized Tribes mandated under 25 U.S.C. § 479a-1. Publication of List of Recognized Tribes.


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