In Illinois, if you have eaten at a restaurant ... required hospital or nursing home care ... vacationed at a campground or swam at a public beach or pool ... drank a glass of milk ... got married or divorced ... had a baby, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has touched your life in some important way.
Assuring the quality of our food, setting the standards for hospital and nursing home care, checking the safety of recreation areas, overseeing the inspection of milk producing farms and processing plants, maintaining the state's vital records and screening newborns for genetic diseases are just some of the duties of IDPH.
In fact, IDPH has 200 different programs that benefit each state resident and visitor, although its daily activities of maintaining the public's health are rarely noticed unless a breakdown in the system occurs. With the assistance of local public health agencies, these essential programs and services make up Illinois' public health system, a system that forms a frontline defense against disease through preventive measures and education. Public health has provided the foundation for remarkable gains in saving lives and reducing suffering. Today, life expectancy is 81 years for women and 76 years for men compared with fewer than 50 years at the at the beginning of the 20th century.
In the past, IDPH directed state efforts to control smallpox, cholera and typhoid, virtually eliminated polio, reduced dental decay through fluoridation of community water supplies, and corrected sanitary conditions that threatened water and food supplies.
Today, IDPH has programs to deal with persistent problems that require continued vigilance – infectious diseases, such as AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and meningococcal disease; foodborne and communicable diseases, such as E. coli 0157:h7, monkeypox, salmonella and West Nile virus; vaccine preventable diseases; lead poisoning; lack of health care in rural areas; health disparities among racial groups, breast, cervical and prostate cancer; Alzheimer's diseases; and other health threats -- sexually transmitted diseases, tobacco use, violence and other conditions associated with high-risk behaviors. In addition, IDPH has been charged with handling the state's response to the threat of bioterrorism.
IDPH, which is one of the state's oldest agencies,was first organized in 1877 with a staff of three and a two-year budget of $5,000. IDPH, now has an annual budget of more than $600 million in state and federal funds, headquarters in Springfield and Chicago, seven regional offices located around the state, three laboratories, and 1,100 employees.
IDPH is organized into six offices, each of which addresses a distinct area of public health. Each office operates and supports numerous ongoing programs and is prepared to respond to extraordinary situations as they arise.
Communities of Illinois will achieve and maintain optimal health and safety.
The mission of the Illinois Department of Public Health is to protect the health and wellness of the people of Illinois through the prevention, health promotion, regulation, and the control of disease and injury.
We, as a diverse public health workforce, care about the well-being of people and are guided by the following principles:
- Prevention of disease and injury
- Protection of food, water, air and environment
- Promotion of safe and healthy communities
- Scientific approaches to analyzing and solving problems
- Partnership and collaboration to achieve coordinated response to community health issues
- Population-based strategies to address public health issues
- Individual responsibility as important to achieving healthy lifestyles
- Advocacy for public health policies to improve the health of populations
- Recognition of the unique value and needs of diverse populations
- Innovation as essential to the practice of public health
Ngozi O. Ezike, MD
Dr. Ngozi Ezike is a board certified internist and pediatrician who joined the Illinois Department of Public Health from Cook County Health where she had served for more than 15 years promoting the organization's mission of delivering integrated health services with dignity and respect regardless of a patient’s ability to pay.
She has delivered inpatient care at Stroger Hospital as well as primary and preventive care in community and school-based clinics. As Medical Director for the Austin Health Center, located on the West-side of Chicago, she engaged with the community through health initiatives involving obesity, diabetes, and breastfeeding.
In her last role with Cook County Health, she served as Medical Director at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center, the largest single site juvenile detention facility in the country. She was instrumental in creating and implementing the facility's health policies as the first step of many for coming out of federal receivership and achieving national accreditation for the detention center. As part of Healthy JTDC 2020, she partnered with profit and non-profit organizations to sponsor the center’s first running program which culminated in a 3K/5K run event for the detained youth. Dr. Ezike is a national policy advisor on juvenile correctional health topics and has presented at numerous local and national conferences for medical professionals and youth audiences alike.
Dr. Ezike graduated with honors from Harvard University with a concentration in chemistry. Her medical degree is from University of California at San Diego. She completed her internship and residency at Rush Medical Center where she is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics. She also earned a management certificate from Harvard Business School.