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The Legal System & Framing Issues in Law and Public Health


The government through relevant federal agencies evaluates the capacity to provide public health services. In this context, the government ensures that its capability to handle public health issues is maintained at high levels (Gostin, 2008). Therefore, regular monitoring of public health capabilities at state and local level is delegated to departments that report to the ministry of health (Gostin, 2008). The federal government’s role includes providing intervention when states fail to address health threats. Federal government’s intervention in case of a nationwide health is constitutional and ethically expected. Sometimes, the jurisdiction to address public health is beyond state health departments. In this case, the federal government’s intervention is allowed through issuance of resources and personnel. It is the role of the government to provide information, expertise and finance in case public health is exposed to disasters, bioterrorism and new diseases. The federal government formulates public health goals that are enforced by state and local agencies (Gostin, 2008). In any case, the country’s public health objectives are identified by the federal government after a thorough research. The importance of the federal government in providing leadership in the country health sector is evidenced through formulation of policies, laws, code of ethics and standards. The federal government is mandated to source funds required in initiating public health programs in national, state and county levels. In addition, the federal government’s commitment should address issues of research, technological innovation and infrastructure required for effective public health initiatives.

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State government’s role in health public

Apparently, the state government’s role is to implement policies stipulated by the federal government. However, the state government’s role is technical compared to policy-making functions. From this perspective, the state government through relevant agencies conducts screening of emerging diseases. In addition, the state government is responsible for disease treatment at this level. The state government is accountable and answerable to the federal government through respective public health departments. Training of public health workers is monitored and supervised by the state government. The state government establishes laboratories to be used by healthcare facilities for research and experiments. The state government assumes the laboratory services on behalf of the national government. Epidemiology practices and surveillance of emerging diseases trends is considered a role of the state government.

Current challenges for federal and state governments in public health

Although it is within the mandate of the federal government to develop public health infrastructure, the responsibility to implement the same is difficult due to technological constraints. Therefore, it is difficult to integrate public health information between Centers for Disease and Control (CDC) and Department of Health Services (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010). From this perspective, coordination among health departments across federal, state and local levels is a challenge. Both federal and state governments do not possess adequate information structures that provide effective technical support to health departments and facilities (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010).

Lack of adequate and competent public health workforce is a critical issue for both federal and state governments. The country lacks a diverse public health workforce that understands cultural differences among the communities, as well as emerging diseases. From this perspective, it is difficult to determine public health requirements among the diverse communities in the United States.

Sometimes, it is difficult for both federal and state government to implement public health care programs since not all agencies have national accreditation (Hall, 2003). In this regard, entrusting public health agencies without national accreditation affects the quality of services. Lack of ongoing public health research has hindered efforts aimed at ensuring immediate intervention is conducted in case of emerging diseases or disasters. In this context, both federal and state governments lack adequate evidence-based information regarding emerging issues in public health. In recent years, the federal and state governments’ efforts in public health have been rendered ineffective as laws are not implemented due to legal and political challenges.

The state governments have endured many challenges in streamlining and standardizing laboratory practices (Hall, 2003). Apparently, there are disparities of laboratory parties, resources and equipments among states. From this perspective, coordination between state-based laboratories is difficult. The state governments’ efforts to implement relevant public health policies have always been hindered by local authorities. In recent times, the relationships between state and local governments have been caused by the former sidelining the latter in matters of policy implementation. In this context, the state government implements public health policies through community-based organizations. From this perspective, such a relationship poses a great challenge to future public health efforts at the state level.

Issues of centralizing or decentralizing public health at federal and state level have been a challenge for many years. Therefore, this challenge hinders innovation especially from the technological aspect. Moreover, a stalemate between federal and state governments or with local authorities stifles implementation of health public programs.

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Lack of enough resources especially finance is a major setback for federal and state governments when implementing public health policies and programs. Recent economic recessions have made it difficult for the federal government to allocate enough resources for public health.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010). Public Health law program. Artificial Trans-Fat. Web.

Gostin, L.O. (2008). A theory and definition of public health law. Web.

Hall. M. (2003). The scope and limits public health law. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 46(3),199.

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