burden of biological and chemical attacks, requires the combined efforts of public health agencies and the proposed regional system of poison control centers. The public health system, through its Essential Services of Public Health and core functions of assessment, policy development, and assurance, offers a useful framework for providing and coordinating poison prevention services (see Table ES-1).

To achieve the ultimate goal of preventing poisonings, as well as to improve the outcomes for those who are poisoned, the Committee envisions the need for a clear, single point of accountability at each level of government. The responsible agencies would assure the accomplishment of all public health core functions or essential services as they relate to

TABLE ES-1 Core Functions and Essential Services of Public Health as Applied to Poison Prevention and Control Services

Core Functions

10 Essential Services


Collection, assembly, analysis, and distribution of information on the community’s health

1. Monitor health status to identify community problems.

2. Diagnose and investigate health problems and the health hazards in the community.

3. Evaluate the effectiveness, accessibility, and quality of personal and population-based health services.

Policy development

Development of comprehensive policies based on scientific knowledge and decision making

4. Inform, educate, and empower people about health issues.

5. Mobilize community partnerships to identify and solve health problems.

6. Develop policies and plans that support individual and community health efforts.


Determination of needed personal and communitywide health services, and provision of these services by encouraging action by others, by requiring action by others, or by direct provision

7. Assure a competent public health and personal health care workforce.

8. Enforce laws and regulations that protect health and ensure safety.

9. Link people to needed personal health services and assure the provision of health care when otherwise unavailable.

Assessment, policy development, and assurance

10. Research for new insights and innovative solutions to health problems.


SOURCE: Adapted from the IOM report, The Future of Public Health (1988).

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