Public health agencies undertake a broad range of health promotion and injury and disease prevention activities in collaboration with an array of actors, such as the community, businesses, and non-profit organizations. These activities are “multisectoral” in nature and centered on public health agencies that oversee and engage with the other actors. Public health agencies can influence the hazardous activities in the private sector in a variety of ways, “ranging from prohibition and regulation to volunteerism, and from cooperation to cooption.” Hence, a public health agency that possesses the necessary administrative resources and authority is vital to the effective implementation of health policies and regulations.
In the developing world, however, many state health agencies lack these basic capacities in dealing with critical health threats, including their ability to avert epidemics of communicable diseases arising from poor sanitary conditions. A serious constraint is the shortage of public health funding for health agencies in the developing world for typical agency functions (e.g., surveillance, monitoring, assessment, and intervention). This is often aggravated by the transaction-intensive demands entailed in enforcing regulations among an array of private and public sector actors including individuals, businesses, and local bodies responsible for providing civic services.