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About the Health Commission

The Boston Public Health Commission is an independent public agency providing a wide range of health services and programs.

The Boston Public Health Commission is the country’s oldest health department. Governing (BPHC) is a seven-member board of health, appointed by the Mayor of Boston​.

Public service and access to quality health care are the cornerstones of our mission - to work in partnership with communities to protect and promote the health and well-being of all Boston residents, especially those impacted by racism and systemic inequities. We offer more than 40 services for residents of Boston.  Our organizational chart can be found here.

Learn more about our history

BPHC Mission

Where we live, work, and play shapes our health and well-being. It’s common to think about individual behavior, genes, and health care access as most important for good health. In actuality, factors such as housing, education, environmental exposure, public safety, employment, and income are strong predictors of health and well-being. It is important to understand how experiences within the individual and community context differ by race. In the United States, racism plays a significant role in creating and perpetuating health inequities. 

Social inequities have origins in discriminatory laws, policies, and practices. Historically these have denied people of color the right to earn income, own property, and accumulate wealth. Health resources are unevenly distributed across the city of Boston. The distribution follows patterns of racial segregation and poverty concentration. As a result, white Boston residents enjoy better health on average than residents of color. These differences in health outcomes between residents of color and white residents are systemic, avoidable, unfair, and unjust.  

Other forms of oppression also contribute to different health outcomes. We must understand and address the many factors shaping our individual and collective health. We must provide all residents with fair access to the conditions that promote the best possible health.

Mission Statement 

To work in partnership with communities to protect and promote the health and well-being of all Boston residents, especially those impacted by racism and systemic inequities.

We achieve our mission by providing and supporting:

  • accessible high quality community-based health and social services
  • community engagement and advocacy
  • development of health promoting policies and regulations
  • disease and injury prevention
  • emergency services
  • health promotion
  • and health education services

Vision Statement

The Boston Public Health Commission envisions a thriving Boston where all residents live healthy, fulfilling lives free of racism, poverty, violence, and other systems of oppression. All residents will have equitable opportunities and resources, leading to optimal health and well-being.

BPHC Commits to the following principles

  • Promote the fair treatment of all people
  • Ensure internal policies, procedures, and practices are fair and equitable
  • Strive to improve public policies, systems, and environments that influence social conditions
  • Foster mutual respect, transparency, and accountability with colleagues, residents, coalitions, and other partners
  • Strengthen community capacity and uplift community voices
  • Use the best available scientific evidence to inform the Commission’s work
  • Provide culturally and linguistically appropriate services to people from all backgrounds
  • Ensure effective communication and coordination with other city agencies, community-based organizations, residents, and other partners

Core Values

  • Equitable redistribution of resources
  • Challenge multiple forms of oppression
  • Transparent communication practices
  • Use best available data to inform decision-making
  • Commit to anti-racism as an action
  • Value and support Black, Indigenous, and People of Color
  • Invest in our employees
  • Build a culture of belonging
  • Authentic and inclusive partnerships
  • Engage multiple partners, practice teamwork, and value everyone

BPHC Strategic Plan

The Boston Public Health Commission 2024-2027 Strategic Plan is the foundation for Commission-wide efforts to work in partnership with communities to protect and promote the health and well-being of all Boston residents, especially those impacted by racism and systemic inequities. It focuses on four foundational priority areas that align with our Mission, Vision, and Core Values: Workforce and Infrastructure, Equity and Anti-Racism, Data and Innovation, and Community Engagement and Partnerships.

2024 - 2027

2019 - 2023

We Asked, You Said, We Did, and What Changed

At BPHC, community input is important to us. We want you to know how your input informs our decision-making.

We Asked, You Said, We Did, and What Changed is an important part of our commitment to equitable community engagement. Learn more about equitable community engagement at BPHC.

Learn more about We Asked,

You Said, We Did, and What Changed

Anti-Racism Policy

After release of Boston’s racism declaration in June 2020, BPHC used its equitable community engagement framework to learn from residents what a Boston free of racism would look like. From this engagement, the BPHC established its community-driven Anti-Racism Policy. The BPHC Anti-Racism Policy aims to guide staff to identify and dismantle institutional racism embedded within policies, practices and cultural norms.

Read the Anti-Racism Policy

Accreditation and awards

BPHC's 2019-2021 Strategic Plan

BPHC's 2019-2021 Strategic Plan outlines an action-oriented map of how BPHC will advance its mission through March 31, 2022.

Public health accreditation and awards

In November of 2017, BPHC achieved national accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB). PHAB works to improve and protect the health of the public. It focuses on improving the performance of governmental public health agencies.

Accreditation means that the BPHC continuously improves to meet community needs. The national accreditation program, supported by the CDC and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, sets standards for program and service improvements for government health departments.

BPHC was a 2019 National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) Model Practice Award recipient. It won for its innovative quality improvement program. 

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