In Illinois, if you have eaten at a restaurant ... required hospital or nursing home care ... vacationed at a campground or swam at a public beach or pool ... drank a glass of milk ... got married or divorced ... had a baby, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has touched your life in some important way.
Assuring the quality of our food, setting the standards for hospital and nursing home care, checking the safety of recreation areas, overseeing the inspection of milk producing farms and processing plants, maintaining the state's vital records and screening newborns for genetic diseases are just some of the duties of IDPH.
In fact, IDPH has 200 different programs that benefit each state resident and visitor, although its daily activities of maintaining the public's health are rarely noticed unless a breakdown in the system occurs. With the assistance of local public health agencies, these essential programs and services make up Illinois' public health system, a system that forms a frontline defense against disease through preventive measures and education. Public health has provided the foundation for remarkable gains in saving lives and reducing suffering. Today, life expectancy is 78 years for women and 71 years for men compared with less than 50 years at the turn of the century.
In the past, IDPH directed state efforts to control smallpox, cholera and typhoid, virtually eliminated polio, reduced dental decay through fluoridation of community water supplies, and corrected sanitary conditions that threatened water and food supplies.
Today, IDPH has programs to deal with persistent problems that require continued vigilance – infectious diseases, such as AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and meningococcal disease; foodborne and communicable diseases, such as E. coli 0157:H7, monkeypox, salmonella and West Nile virus; vaccine preventable diseases; lead poisoning; lack of health care in rural areas; health disparities among racial groups, breast, cervical and prostate cancer; Alzheimer's diseases; and other health threats -- sexually transmitted diseases, tobacco use, violence and other conditions associated with high-risk behaviors. In addition, IDPH has been charged with handling the state's response to the threat of bioterrorism.
The mission of IDPH is to promote health through the prevention and control of disease and injury. And the agency has been doing just that since it was first organized in 1877 with a staff of three and a two-year budget of $5,000. IDPH, which is one of the state's oldest agencies, now has an annual budget of about $325 million in state and federal funds, headquarters in Springfield and Chicago, seven regional offices located around the state, three laboratories and 1,100 employees.
The Department is organized into six offices, each of which addresses a distinct area of public health. Each office operates and supports numerous ongoing programs and is prepared to respond to extraordinary situations as they arise.
The mission of the Illinois Department of Public Health is to promote the health of the people of Illinois through the prevention and control of disease and injury.
We, as a diverse public health workforce, care about the well-being of people and are guided by the following principles:
- Prevention of disease and injury
- Protection of food, water, air and environment
- Promotion of safe and healthy communities
- Scientific approaches to analyzing and solving problems
- Partnership and collaboration to achieve coordinated response to community health issues
- Population-based strategies to address public health issues
- Individual responsibility as important to achieving healthy lifestyles
- Advocacy for public health policies to improve the health of populations
- Recognition of the unique value and needs of diverse populations
- Innovation as essential to the practice of public health
Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D.
Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D., was appointed as Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health in January 2015 after dedicating his career to improving access to quality health care.
As a physician, attorney, and former public health economist, Director Shah, has advised professionals around the nation and world about cost effective health systems and methods to enhance the delivery of efficient healthcare in policy and practice.
A native Chicagoan, Director Shah received both his medical and law degrees from the University of Chicago. Director Shah lived and worked in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, as the Chief Economist for the Ministry of Health of Cambodia, where he addressed issues related to public health system efficiency. He also served as an epidemiologist for the Ministry, investigating and managing disease outbreaks across Cambodia. Director Shah also spent several years as an attorney at the renowned law firm, Sidley Austin LLP, where he focused on the administrative and legal aspects of health care and public health.
Director Shah is currently a lecturer in global public health at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, where he teaches courses on public health policy and epidemiology. He was recently recognized as an “Emerging Leader” by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. He lives in Chicago with his wife and their dog.
In his role leading the Illinois Department of Public Health, Director Shah continues his work championing health innovations, improving systems, and empowering communities.
Office of the Director
Office of Finance and Administration
Office of Performance Management