Chief Health Officer and Health Protection
About Chief Health Officer and Health Protection Branch
The Health Protection Branch is a branch of the Wellbeing, Integrated Care and Ageing Division of the Victorian Department of Health. The role of the Health Protection Branch is to reduce the incidence of preventable disease by protecting the community against hazards resulting from or associated with communicable disease, food, water or the environment.
The Health Protection Branch separated the roles of Director Health Protection and Chief Health Officer, and replaced the three work Units of Food Safety, Communicable Disease and Environmental Health with a number of indicative programs, sections and teams. This resulted in changed reporting arrangements and a flatter branch structure.
- The Health Protection Branch consists of:
- Communicable Disease, Prevention & Control
- Communicable Disease Epidemiology and Surveillance
- Environmental Health Program
- Environmental Health Regulation & Compliance
- Food Safety & Regulation
- Office of the Chief Health Officer
- Strategy & Strategic Projects
- TB Control Program
- Water Program
Communicable Disease, Prevention & Control
The Communicable Disease Prevention & Control Section is responsible for monitoring, detecting and investigating particular notifiable diseases and management of associated outbreaks. These include notifiable gastrointestinal illnesses, vaccine preventable diseases, zoonoses, CJD, vector borne and blood borne viruses. The Section also undertakes business and strategic management functions including disease notification data entry, major procurements and funding, provision of advice on legislative and regulatory issues, Influenza Pandemic Planning, health information management and contributing to emergency management planning and response.
Communicable Disease Epidemiology and Surveillance
The Epidemiology and Surveillance Section are responsible for the daily surveillance of notifications of communicable disease, the monitoring and analysis of notifications over time, the reporting of communicable disease data, and for the management and quality of communicable disease data. We are required to maintain a detailed understanding of the epidemiology of diseases under surveillance to ensure detection of outbreaks and notifications of importance. We provide epidemiological support to other areas of Health Protection, and make available the data from which to build public health prevention and control programs.
The Environmental Health Program aims to protect the health of Victorians from the health effects of environmental hazards.
Environmental hazards include chemicals, particles and fibres such as asbestos in the air environment, mould, extreme heat, noise, and metal or chemical contaminants in soil.
The team includes toxicologists, environmental health officers, health scientists, project officers, administrative staff and a senior advisor in health risk management.
Environmental Health Regulation & Compliance
The Environmental Health Regulation & Compliance Section seeks to:
- protect the health and safety of persons and the environment from the harmful effects of radiation through licensing and the provision of an emergency response service for incidents involving radioactive material;
- minimise the impact of Legionnaires' disease on the Victorian community;
- protect people and the environment from the harmful effects of pesticides through the licensing of pest control operators.
Food Safety & Regulation
The Food Safety and Regulation Unit is responsible for co-ordinating whole of Victorian Government policy on food regulation, administering the Food Act (including food safety incident investigation and management) and for leading and supporting public health regulatory policy and projects.
The Immunisation Section coordinates the immunisation provision in Victoria including the procurement and distribution of vaccines according to the National Immunisation Program schedule and State funded vaccines.
Office of the Chief Health Officer
The Office of the Chief Health Officer incorporates Emergency Management, Partner Notification and Support, and Senior Medical Advisors. The Chief Health Officer is the Government’s media spokesperson on disease prevention and control and has various statutory roles outlined in the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008.
Strategy & Strategic Projects
Health Protection Strategy and Strategic Projects was established to improve the Health Protection Branch’s strategy capability and capacity, oversee branch strategic and business planning, and provide leadership on key strategic or cross-branch projects.
TB Control Program
The TB Control Program provides support to other health professionals in the management of TB throughout the state of Victoria. The section is responsible for case management, surveillance, collection of data on all notified cases of TB, contact tracing, investigation and management of their contacts.
The Water Program protects people from chemical and microbial hazards in water by administering drinking water regulation, raising awareness, promoting health and wellbeing, and informing state and national water policy.