August 2018 | Report 403 and Memorandum 1149

What we found:

  • Public health is a central and yet broadly misunderstood function of government that focuses on prevention of disease and injury and management of environmental factors (physical and social) that affect health. Medicine improves the health of one individual at a time; public health improves the health of entire communities.
  • In recent years, the state has invested little more than what was needed to draw down federal public health funding. This leaves the state heavily reliant on diminishing federal funds. This disinvestment has affected the ability of state and local health departments to provide essential services. Michigan lags the nation in both per-capita funding for public health and measures of population health.
  • Improvement may be needed for Michigan’s system of public health service delivery, fragmented between multiple state departments. A “health in all policies” approach should be adopted statewide so that every government policy (from schools to roads to criminal justice) includes assessment of  associated health risks and/or benefits. State and local health departments should coordinate public health across sectors and elevate the public’s understanding of public health.

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