Emergencies can often directly impact health systems of an affected region or country, especially in resource-constrained areas. Health system recovery following an emergency is a complex and dynamic process. Health system recovery efforts have often been structured around the World Health Organization’s health systems building blocks as demonstrated by the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment. Although this structure is valuable and well known, it can overlook the intricacies of public health systems. We retrospectively examine public health systems recovery, a subset of the larger health system, following the 2010 Haiti earthquake and cholera outbreak, through the lens of the 10 essential public health services. This framework illustrates the comprehensive nature of and helps categorize the activities necessary for a well-functioning public health system and can complement other assessments. Outlining the features of a public health system for recovery in structured manner can also help lay the foundation for sustainable long-term development leading to a more robust and resilient health system.