Public Health in Minnesota:
A State-Local Partnership

Commissioner Ehlinger's Highlights from the Local Elected Officials' Orientation to Local Public Health (Video Conference)

  • Minnesota's public health system is regarded as one of the best in the United States.
  • The state's system is built on a strong partnership—we can't do it without each other!
  • Working together, we can meet changing public health needs and expectations.

Why is Public Health Important?

Increases Quality and Length of Life

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that an estimated 25 of the 30 years of life expectancy gained in the 20th century have been the result of public health accomplishments. These accomplishments included such things as: immunizations, food safety, motor vehicle safety, sanitation, and control of infectious diseases. The slow but steady increase in longevity from the 1970s forward has come from improvements such as mammography, pap tests, shorter emergency response times, blood pressure and cholesterol screenings, nutrition guidelines and tobacco cessation.

High Return on Investment for Prevention and Education,
Good Stewardship of Government Spending

Minnesota has one of the best health care systems in the nation, and one of the highest rates of health insurance coverage. In order to see a positive return on the significant investment we've made in health care coverage, we need to also invest in public health programming. When added together, health care coverage, care, and prevention yield the greatest impact on the health of the population.

Public Health Partnership

Neither MDH nor local public health departments work alone. Public health in Minnesota is a state-local partnership. Because of this partnership, the state has a high level of communication and cooperation between state and local governments for public health. MDH's seven district offices located around the state work closely with local public health, and vice versa.

"The vision for public health is a strong and dynamic partnership of governments fully equipped to address the changing needs of the public's health." – SCHSAC Strategic Planning Workgroup, 2003

Local Public Health Act

Minnesota's public health system was created with the passage of the Community Health Services Act in 1976, which was subsequently revised in 1987 and 2003 as the Local Public Health Act. This legislation delinates the responsibilities of the state (MDH) and city and county governments in the planning, development, funding, and delivery of public health services


Managing information is critical during public health events--there can be quite a difference between reality and the public’s perception of an event. MDH will assist your county, city, and CHB in sharing information with the media, your constituents, and your public health system partners when needed. Learn more at: MDH: Health Alert Network [Note: This link will open in a new tab].