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Word cloud about Local Health Authority Day

Local Health Authority Day

On March 19, 2019, the Robert Koch Institute proclaimed the "Local Health Authority Day" for the first time. This awareness day is intended to pay tribute to the local health authorities, which represent an important pillar of public health worldwide, but whose importance is often unknown.

Importance of the local health authorities

Not only in Germany, but all over the world, local health authorities are essential in order to recognise and address health hazards in good time. In contrast to hospitals or medical practices who deal with patients on an individual level, public health focuses on the health of the population as a whole, also taking a preventive approach into account. It therefore has a greater influence on people's health than many are aware of.

In Germany there are about 380 local health authorities. They play a major role in tackling outbreaks – something both society and policymakers have become acutely aware of during the COVID-19 pandemic, but which is also true for smaller, local outbreaks, such as the measles outbreak in Cologne in 2018 or the hepatitis A outbreak in Berlin 2017. In such cases, they decide on and implement appropriate infection control measures. However, controlling and containing outbreaks is only a small, albeit particularly visible part of the tasks of local health authorities in Germany. The tasks range from counselling and support services for families, pregnant women, the chronically ill, mentally or physically impaired people, as well as daycare and school enrolment examinations, monitoring and surveillance tasks in the areas of hospital and environmental hygiene, participation in health monitoring and political advice.

The "Local Health Authority Day" (or in German: "Tag des Gesundheitsamtes") shall raise awareness and emphasize the merit of local health authorities all over the world and the people working there in the service of public health.

Johann Peter Frank

Johann Peter Frank, lithography by Adolph Friedrich Kunike, 1819

19th March is the birthday of Johann Peter Frank. The physician and philosopher was born in Rodalben, Germany, in 1745. With his six-volume lifework "System einer vollständigen medizinischen Polizey" (System of a Complete Medical Police), he is regarded as the founder of social hygiene and public health services. Johann Peter Frank’s work ensured that epidemics were averted from people by providing appropriate living and working conditions and by treating drinking water meticulously. In his memory, the Federal Association of Physicians of German Public Health Departments awards the Johann Peter Frank Medal for special services to the public health system every year.

Date: 20.02.2024