BOSTON (WWLP) – A new Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) program is awarding $7.7 million dollars in grants to help strengthen local public health services.

The Public Health Excellence Grant Program for Shared Services funding will help 29 groups representing 191 cities and towns statewide increase cross-jurisdictional sharing of public health services and staff.

The effort furthers the Special Commission on Local and Regional Health’s recommendations to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of local and regional public health by expanding opportunities for sharing of public health services.

By working together, municipalities will be better able to meet statutory requirements, respond to public health emergencies, and plan public health improvements. The grants will enable local officials to provide a more comprehensive and equitable set of public health services across the Commonwealth.

“Our local boards of health are an important part of the network of health and human services for residents across the Commonwealth,” said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH. “They have been at the front lines of the COVID-19 response and this is an important step in advancing the recommendations of the Special Commission on Local and Regional Public Health.”

The shared services programs will begin in May 2021 with support from the DPH Office of Local and Regional Health.