American Public Health Association


The American Public Health Association (APHA) is a professional organization for public health professionals, or people who work to help prevent disease and promote good health within communities, countries, or other groups of people. The APHA is based in Washington, DC.


The APHA provides a collective voice for public health to support healthy communities, health promotion, and disease prevention for Americans. The APHA represents members who work in the field of public health and others who are concerned about the health of their communities. Included in APHA's vision and mission is achieving equity in health status for all people. Priorities for the APHA include rebuilding the public health infrastructure, ensuring access to health care, and eliminating disparities in health. To achieve these goals, the association publishes or promotes information in public health science, practice, and opinion.


The APHA has a broad variety of public health professionals among its 50,000 members, who represent more than 50 public health professions. Its annual meeting attracts about 13,000 physicians, administrators, nurses, researchers, epidemiologists, educators, and other professionals from around the world. Aside from the national association, there are 53 state and regional associations affiliated with APHA. The affiliated associations are represented on the APHA's governing council, the legislative body of the association. An executive board and officers are elected to serve the APHA, and a professional staff works out of the association's Washington, DC, office. The association is supported by membership dues, revenue from conventions, publication subscriptions or sales, and money from private foundations, government grants, and individual donations. Its meetings, educational activities, publications, and networking activities reach more than 50,000 public health professionals and students in the United States.


The APHA also has several boards and committees that help accomplish its members' goals. For example, a committee helps plan for its annual meeting, and another serves as the editorial board. There also is a membership committee, a committee on women's rights, and an international human rights committee. Some committees assist with selecting people who will receive APHA awards, and others provide strategic planning for the organization or nominations for new association officers.

As part of providing a voice regarding public health issues, the APHA emphasizes public health disease prevention and reacts to social issues and policies. For example, the APHA provides information on how to support funding of public health activities, and encourages members and others to improve support of issues such as nutrition, health, clean air, school nutrition, and reproductive health services. Ensuring that funding remains in place helps to support the public health infrastructure, an APHA priority. The association releases news about public health concerns, the association, and in reaction to policy and legislative decisions that its members and leadership believe could affect Americans' public health. The APHA also offers its members professional development programs and membership geared to one of more than 30 professional communities, depending on the member's area of interest in public health.


The APHA was founded in 1872, and had held 140 annual meetings as of October 2012. Stephen Smith, MD, served as the association's first president and held the post for three years. Professor William Thompson Sedgwick was president of APHA in 1915 and active in public health from his position with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Each year, the association presents an award in his honor to recognize outstanding accomplishments in the field of public health.

The APHA's peer-reviewed journal, American Journal of Public Health, recently celebrated 100 years of publishing. Today, in addition to the journal, books, a newspaper, and e-newsletter, the APHA is active on social media, with blogs, a YouTube channel, Facebook page, podcasts, and several Twitter accounts, among other social media outlets. In 1995, the APHA began designating the first week of April as National Public Health Week to highlight important public health issues and recognize the contributions of public health to American society.


The APHA added a mid-year meeting to its annual meetings in 2011, partly to reinforce information about the Affordable Care Act and how public health and prevention should remain central to health care reform. The APHA has continued to be active in advocating for health care reform, particularly in improving access to preventive care and to health care in general, which is one of the association's priorities. APHA helped in efforts to support the first comprehensive AIDS strategy in the United States and partnered with government agencies to promote clean air and explain the role of climate change in public health. In addition, the APHA has strengthened its relationship with the Pan American Health Organization to collaborate more on global public health issues.

Research and general acceptance



“About NPHW.” National Public Health Week. (accessed May 31, 2018).

American Public Health Association. “About Us.” (accessed May 8, 2018).


American Public Health Association, 800 I Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20001, (202) 777-2742, Fax: (202) 777-2534,, .

Teresa G. Odle

  This information is not a tool for self-diagnosis or a substitute for professional care.