Department of Health
Department of Health
Dr. Nate Smith has served as Director and State Health Officer for the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) since 2013. In this position, he is a member of the Governor’s cabinet and provides senior scientific and executive leadership for the agency. Dr. Smith has a strong commitment to the mission of ADH, “To protect and improve the health and well-being of all Arkansans.” In his role as Director, he strives to help colleagues achieve their full potential using public health best practices supported by science-based decisions. He currently serves as president-elect of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO).
The ADH delivers over 100 services through the main office in Little Rock and over 90 local health units in each of the state’s 75 counties. These services include immunizations, WIC, outbreak response, vital records, chronic disease prevention, preparedness and emergency response, injury and violence prevention, and suicide prevention. The ADH also includes the Arkansas Public Health Laboratory, which tests for safe food and drinking water, detects inherited genetic disorders in newborns, and provides early identification of infectious diseases. Local, state, and federal partnerships help the ADH to advance its mission and best serve the people of Arkansas.
Dr. Smith has previously served the ADH as Branch Chief for Infectious Diseases, State Epidemiologist, and Deputy Director for Public Health Programs. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases and holds voluntary faculty positions in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Medicine and in the Epidemiology Department at the College of Public Health. His clinical interests include HIV, tropical medicine, and emerging infectious diseases.
Dr. Smith is also an ordained minister in the Anglican Church. He and his wife, Kim, served two terms as medical missionaries at Kijabe Hospital in Kenya. During that time, Dr. Smith served in several different roles, including Chief of Internal Medicine, Medical Intern Program Director, and Infectious Diseases Consultant. During their second term of service, he also served as Country Medical Director for the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Kenya and Senior Medical Technical Advisor for the AIDSRelief program in East Africa. Dr. Smith and his wife have four adopted children from Kenya.
Mission Statement To protect and improve the health and well-being of all Arkansans. Vision Statement Optimal health for all Arkansans to achieve maximum personal, economic and social impact. What is public health? One definition – from a 1988 report by the Institute of Medicine’s “The Future of Public Health” – is this: “Public health is the science and the art of preventing disease, prolonging life, and organizing community efforts to do the following: keep the environment clean, control communicable infections, educate individuals in personal hygiene (like hand washing for example), organize medical and nursing services for the early diagnosis and treatment of disease, and develop the social machinery to ensure everyone a healthy standard of living.”