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Public Health Law

Law is an important tool in public health practice. Public health law is an emerging discipline that combines elements from legal practice that are relevant to the work of health departments. Public health officials have many legal rights and responsibilities as they protect and promote the health of their communities. New partnerships between public health professionals and attorneys are emerging as they work jointly to balance individual rights and public responsibilities.

In the Spotlight

"Planning for Unaccompanied Minors in Shelter Operations" is a new brief that provides local health departments (LHDs) and emergency planners with facts about the effects of disaster on minors and ideas about how to plan for their presence in shelters. Minors can quickly become separated from their parents or guardians for numerous reasons during a disaster or emergency, and they will have different needs that need to be met than adults. The brief details the emotional effects of disaster on minors, as well as provides a number of situations LHDs need to consider when planning a strategy for managing unaccompanied minors in emergency situations, including: arrival, identification, medical care, mental healthcare, supervision and security, supplies/needs, record keeping, information sharing, reunification, and emancipated minors.   More »

What Local Health Departments Need to Know About Fracking

"Hydraulic Fracturing: What Local Health Departments Need to Know" is the first in a new suite of fracking resources NACCHO is developing for local health departments (LHDs). This issue brief introduces LHDs to the issue, provides a brief overview of hte various impacts and controversies associated with fracking, and offers guidance on the ways LHDs can mitigate potential harm from fracking. NACCHO will release two more resources in the coming months to complete the fracking suite, including a guide on how LHDs can implement fracking ordinances in their own communities, and an overview of what states are doing to regulate fracking.
NACCHO's Public Health Law Workgroup

NACCHO's Public Health Law Workgroup aims to enhance local health officials' understanding of the laws, policies, and regulations that affect public health by developing resources and providing technical assistance. Workgroup membership comprises a diverse group of professionals, including LHD officials, attorneys, and national health agency directors. Funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) supports the workgroup. The workgroup meets monthly to address emerging legal issues impacting LHDs. Recent discussions have focused on billing for services, reunification of minors, HIPAA privacy issues and legal issues surrounding pandemic response. Requests for the NACCHO Public Health Law Workgroup can be submitted via email at Click for additional information about the Public Health Law Workgroup.


For more information on Public Health Law at NACCHO, please e-mail