The Medical Society of Virginia, formed in 1870, sponsored a bill to create a State Board of Health and Vital Statistics to supervise sanitation matters and to prevent the spread of contagious diseases. This bill was enacted into law by the General Assembly on February 13, 1872, but no funding was provided the Board, which functioned intermittently until 1896. The General Assembly passed an act on March 3, 1896, establishing and funding the Board of Health. An act passed on March 7, 1900, created local boards of health in every country and city and gave the State Board authority over them.
The position of Commissioner of Health was established as the executive officer of the Board of Health by an act of the General Assembly passed on March 14, 1908. The State Government Reorganization Act passed by the General Assembly on April 18, 1927, created the Department of Health under the aegis of the State Board of Health. The Department serves as the administrative arm of the Board of Health under the supervision of the State Health Commissioner and is responsible to the Secretary of Health and Human Resources.
The mission of the State Board of Health is to "provide leadership in planning and policy development for the Commonwealth and the Virginia Department of Health to implement a coordinated, prevention-oriented program that promotes and protects the health of all Virginians. In addition, the Board serves as the primary advocate and representative of the citizens of the Commonwealth in achieving optimal health." The goals of the Board include prevention and control of chronic disease, reduction of disparities in health care, improvement of the state's public health infrastructure, and improvement in the health and well-being of all Virginians. The Board of Health's core functions are to review and promulgate regulations, advise the Governor on health-related issues, formulate policy, advocate health care reform, and to advance quality of life through improved health.
From the guide to the Minutes and Meeting Files of the Virginia State Board of Health, 1896-2003, (The Library of Virginia)