Virginia Public Health Association
Public Health is...

Connecting the voices of public health in Virginia


The Virginia Public Health Association is a not-for-profit (501c3) organization and accepts donations. Donations are tax-deductible.

What is Public Health?

Public health is preventing disease, disability and injury and promoting good health within groups of people - from small communities to entire countries - through policy change, health services, public education and population-based interventions. It is one of the most vital professions and is absolutely essential to our society’s ability to thrive.

Despite all of the advances in public health, disparities persist, with some ethnic minority populations having higher death rates for key health conditions. The U.S. infant mortality rate is higher than other developed countries, and this generation of children will be the first in 100 years to have a lower life expectancy than their parents due to obesity and its health impacts.  Life expectancy in our country ranks 46th in the world. Tobacco use continues to be the single most preventable cause of disease, disability and death in the United States. Poor diet and physical activity are rapidly growing health risks. Climate change is creating new public health challenges, from changes in vector borne diseases to extreme weather events.


Public Health in Virginia

Virginia has a mixed health record, and is ranked as the 21st overall healthiest state according to the 2012 America’s Health Rankings. The state has a high infant mortality rate, 7 deaths per 1,000 live births, leading to its ranking as 30th. There are also higher rates of adult obesity (29.2%) and diabetes (10.4%) than most other states, leading it to be ranked 35th and 38th respectively. The problem is even more stark when observed through the prism of race: 38.1% of non-Hispanic blacks are obese while for non-Hispanic whites the number is 25.1% and for Hispanics it is 24.1%; more Hispanics (27.4%) smoke than non-Hispanic blacks (18.0%) and non-Hispanic whites (17.9%); and a sedentary lifestyle is more prevalent among non-Hispanic blacks (30.8%) than non-Hispanic whites (20.7%).

There is a demonstrated need to create pathways into the public health workforce in the Commonwealth, especially for people of color and those who may be economically or geographically disadvantaged. As of June 2010 25% of the Virginia Department of Health workforce, or 901 individuals, were African-American. Of these individuals, 10.7% had a Master’s degree or higher, compared to 13.7% of their white co-workers. For those who had an Associate’s degree or higher, the disparity was even more marked: 40.7% of white employees claimed this level of education, while only 32.0% of black employees held a comparable degree.


Leading the Way for Public Health in Virginia

While no one organization or project can eliminate all of these problems and disparities, the Virginia Public Health Association is uniquely positioned to ensure good public health in our state, as well as serving as a strong link in the larger national and international network.  Since 1950, we have worked to promote and protect the public's health through continuing education and professional development; annual meetings of the public health community; and advocating on behalf of good state and local public health policy and legislation. Our efforts continue today as we work with our partners to develop the highest quality public health workforce that reflects the diversity, both racial and geographic, of the state; build a strong independent voice for sound public health policies; eliminate health disparities; work to ensure access to healthcare and address other emerging issues.


Our mission is to promote and achieve significant improvements in public health practice and policy in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The association is committed to actively forming new partnerships, developing initiatives to support public health, and serving as a forum for all of the voices of public health in Virginia to be heard.


The Virginia Public Health Association, with nearly 700 members and another 700 associates, represents a diverse group of professionals from many fields with the common purpose of protecting the health of all Virginians.


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(Click here for a copy of the VPHA Case for Support)

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VPHA • Richmond, Virginia

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