The University established the Department of Public Health in 1979, as the Department of Community Health primarily to teach undergraduate students on the Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MBBCh) programme. In 1984, the Department commenced the Master of Public Health (MPH) programme. In 1999, the University Senate changed the name to the Department of Public Health. In 2006, the Department commenced the Ph.D in Public Health and the Bachelor of Public Health (BPH) in the 2009/2010 academic session. Areas of concentration for the MPH and specialisation for the Ph.D. include; Health Education and Health Promotion, Epidemiology, Environmental Health, Public Health Nutrition, Public Health Sociology and Health Services Management. The University in 2015 under the auspices of the Federal Ministry of Health Collaborating Centre programme and with support from United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through IntraHealth, CapacityPlus established a Center of Excellence in Human Resources for Health Management (HRHM) training in the Department. In 2016, the NUC granted the department accreditation and adjusted the Bachelor of Public Health degree to Bachelor of Science (Public Health).
The Department focuses on training high quality professionals through sound theoretical foundation in the natural, social, and health sciences. In addition, build skills for public health action in general disease prevention and control, nutrition, epidemiology, emerging communicable diseases, emergency and disaster management; and basic and health system research. Training in the Department emphasises problem-solving, community participatory approaches, inter-disciplinary and inter-professional collaboration to addressing and managing multidimensional public health problems in the society.
The public health situation in Nigeria grows in complexity with new challenges, dwindling resources, management of human resources for health, and quest for practical and evidence -based solutions to health problems. The extent to which the department is sufficiently responsive to national public health needs in the future determines its significance and growth in current and future national and indeed global health order.