U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


Established in 1979, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is a cabinet-level department responsible for the welfare, safety, and health of United States citizens.


HHS comprises several different programs. The department administers drug safety standards, works to prevent epidemics, and offers assistance to those who are economically disadvantaged.


The Public Health Service, a division of HHS, helps state and city governments with health problems. The service studies ways of controlling infectious diseases, works to immunize children, and operates quarantine programs.

HHS also operates the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), where most of the nation's health problems are studied. These include occupational health and safety, the dangers of cigarette smoking, and childhood injuries, as well as communicable diseases and the epidemic of urban violence. In addition to investigating these problems, the CDC is charged with making policy suggestions on its management. HHS also administers the Social Security and Medicare programs, as well as the Head Start Program.


New lead-content standards for paint and other consumer items grew out of CDC studies. The agency conducts energy-related epidemiological research for the U.S. Department of Energy, including studies on radiation exposure. Through the CDC, the HHS runs the National Center for Health Statistics, an AIDS Hotline, an international disaster relief team, and programs to monitor infectious disease epidemics worldwide.

Along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the FDA is responsible for maintaining the safety of the nation's food and drug supply. HHS also administers the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, which carries out the health-related responsibilities of the Superfund legislation.

See also Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry ; Communicable diseases ; Food and Drug Administration ; Public Health Service ; Radiation exposure ; Smoking .



“Department of Health and Human Services.” USA.gov . August 8, 2012. http://www.usa.gov/Agencies/Federal/Executive/HHS.shtml (accessed August 11, 2012).


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 200 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC, 20201, (202) 6190257, (877) 696-6775, http://www.hhs.gov .

Linda Rehkopf
Revised by Stacey Chamberlin

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