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About the Department of Health

The Department of Health was created by the Act of April 27, 1905, P.L. 312, and modified subsequently through the Administrative Code of 1929.  Act 87 of July 2, 1996, P.L.518, removed the requirement that the Secretary be a Physician; The Act also established the new position of Physician General. 

The Department of Health has touched every citizen in all parts of the Commonwealth. Through the use of community-based strategies, the Department of Health has successfully reduced the number of serious illnesses, injuries and deaths due to major health threats; tobacco-related diseases; infectious disease; and accidental injuries.    

Over the years, the Department's mission has been adapted to meet the needs and demands of the dynamic nature of Public Health, but one thing has not changed -- the commitment, dedication and professionalism of Department of Health staff to provide top-quality programs and services that benefit the health, safety and well-being of all Pennsylvanians. 

Department Mission, Vision and Values 


The mission of the Pennsylvania Department of Health is to promote healthy behaviors, prevent injury and disease, and to assure the safe delivery of quality health care for all people in Pennsylvania.


A healthy Pennsylvania for all.


  • Communication – All our verbal and written communications are clear, concise, timely, culturally appropriate, thoughtful and effective. We ensure the mission and vision of the department are conveyed in meaningful terms appropriate for the audience with whom we are communicating.
  • Accountability – We responsibly use human, financial, and environmental resources in an effective and efficient manner.
  • Teamwork and collaboration – We work collaboratively internally and with other agencies and partners to engage together in opportunities to better serve our customers, serving as positive change agents.
  • Competence and effectiveness – We rely on research, data, and evidence-based practices to make decisions and to implement initiatives, and support employee development that encourages workforce expertise and success.
  • Quality – We successfully manage complexity and create strong work products by investing in the effectiveness of work teams and regularly engaging in self-development activities.
  • Integrity – We are honest, ethical, and transparent in all actions. We always put the public good above all else.
  • Respect – We strive to develop a culturally and emotionally literate workplace culture where all people are valued for their contributions as they work toward the agency's goals.
  • Reliability – We are a trusted resource to other agencies, our internal and external partners, and the commonwealth at large.
  • Customer service – We seek out and listen to customers' needs to develop ideas and solutions and provide information to our customers in a courteous and prompt manner.