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HHS and women's health: Agency and office descriptions

HHS and women's health: Agency and office descriptions

Meeting women's health needs and improving their health is one of the most urgent priorities of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Every day, millions of children, families, and seniors have health care, food, and child care through the efforts of various HHS agencies. Every day, research funded and performed by HHS agencies advances our knowledge of how to treat and prevent disease and how to be a healthier nation.

Here is a brief description of HHS agencies that contribute to women's health needs.


  • ACF – Administration for Children and Families
    The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) supports the needs of children and families, individuals, and communities through programs for early childhood development, ending human trafficking, family violence prevention, healthy marriages, and more. More than 80% of ACF's $49 billion budget is devoted to programs that directly support children and families.
  • ACL – Administration for Community Living 
    The Administration for Community Living (ACL), which includes the Administration on Aging (AOA), supports the needs of the aging and disability populations and enhances access to quality health care and long-term services for all individuals. The ACL also supports the National Family Caregiver Support Program.
  • AHRQ – Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality 
    The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) supports and leads research to help make health care safer, higher quality, more accessible, more equitable, and more affordable. AHRQ also works with other HHS agencies and partners to make sure the research is understood and used.
  • CDC – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 
    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the nation's public health agency. Through its numerous health surveillance programs, the CDC detects and responds to any new and emerging health threats. The CDC also translates the data collected into reliable health information to promote healthy and safe behaviors. The CDC collaborates closely with state and local health agencies on key public health concerns.
  • FDA – Food and Drug Administration 
    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is charged with protecting public health by ensuring the safety, effectiveness, quality, and security of drugs, vaccines, and medical devices, among others. The agency is also responsible for protecting the nation's food supply and regulating all cosmetics, dietary supplements, tobacco, and more.
  • HRSA – Health Resources and Services Administration 
    The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) works to improve access to quality health care for those who are uninsured or living with HIV/AIDS and for pregnant women, mothers, and children. HRSA funds Federally Qualified Health Centers — community-based health centers serving those most in need.
  • IHS – Indian Health Services 
    The Indian Health Services (IHS) provides health information, health care, and services for almost 2 million American Indians and Alaska Natives.
  • NIH – National Institutes of Health 
    The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is made up of 27 Institutes and Centers, each with a specific research agenda, from maternal and child health to cancer and mental health. NIH funds biomedical research in every state and around the globe. Out of the $31 billion that the NIH will invest in 2014 in medical research, almost $4 billion will fund research specifically on women's health.
  • OASH – Offices of the Assistant Secretary for Health 
    There are many offices under the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health that are cornerstones for delivery of public health services. These include:

    • OSG – Office of the Surgeon General: Provides Americans the best scientific information available on how to improve their health and reduce their risk of illness and injury.
    • NVPO – National Vaccine Program Office: Ensures collaboration among the many federal agencies involved in vaccine and immunization activities.
    • OAH – Office of Adolescent Health: Coordinates adolescent health promotion and disease prevention initiatives across HHS.
    • ODPHP – Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion: Provides leadership, coordination, and policy development for public health and prevention activities. Leads the Healthy People initiative for HHS.
    • OHAIDP – Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy: Is responsible for coordinating, integrating, and directing the department's policies, programs, and activities related to HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis, and other infectious diseases of public health significance, and blood safety and availability.
    • OMH – Office of Minority Health: Addresses health status and quality of life for minority populations in the United States.
    • OPA – Office of Population Affairs: Advises on issues related to family planning and population affairs, and supports Title X family planning clinics nationwide.
    • OWH – Office on Women's Health: Addresses the health of women nationwide by providing leadership and coordination through policy, education, and model programs.
  • SAMHSA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 
    Through its programs and campaigns, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) works to make substance abuse and mental health information and services available and accessible.