Do You Know Healthy People 2020?
By: Chris Mackey
What are the most important health promotion issues facing the American public? Where can I find proven interventions to promote the health of my community, or even stay informed about improving my own health? What both guides and sets the priorities for the work of health departments and public health officials? For three decades, beginning in 1979 with the release of “Healthy People: The Surgeon General’s Report on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention,” the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has led the development of Healthy People (www.healthypeople.gov). Put simply, Healthy People is a set of priorities and goals for improving the health of all Americans. These goals serve as a means with which states and local communities can measure the health of their citizens and identify critical areas of need and allot funding and other resources. The Topics and Objectives of Healthy People, described in more detail below, were chosen by experts from lead federal agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Administration on Aging, and the Food and Drug Administration, among others. The Topics and Objectives were then presented to the public for comment.
Healthy People . . . 2020?
Remember that Healthy People is a set of goals spanning a 10-year period. At the beginning of each decade, a new set of Healthy People priorities is released, and so the current version of Healthy People was released in 2010 and reflects goals to be achieved by 2020. Healthy People is organized into 42 health promotion and disease prevention topics with more specific objectives under each. These topics include typical public health issues, such as nutrition and weight status, substance abuse, and cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, as well as sleep, issues for specific populations such as those in the LGBTQI community or older adults, and the social determinants of health (factors in the social and physical environment that influence health). You can see the full list of topic areas here. In addition, Healthy People 2020 contains a smaller list of high priority topic areas called Leading Health Indicators (LHIs). The LHIs include topics such as injury and violence, tobacco use, nutrition, physical activity and obesity, and oral health. You can learn more about the LHIs here.
Are People with Disabilities Part of Healthy People 2020?
Yes! One of the 42 topic areas addressed in Healthy People 2020 is Disability and Health. The objectives in this section center on what needs to be done to support health promotion and disease prevention for people with disabilities. Objectives under the Disability and Health Topic include increasing community participation, increasing employment levels, improving access to care, and ensuring that evidence-based health promotion programs include people with disabilities. You can learn more about the Disability and Health topic here.
Public Health 3.0.
In October of 2016, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH), part of the DHHS, published, “A Call to Action to Create a 21st Century Public Health Infrastructure.” This white paper recognized the need for the practice of public health to continue to evolve to focus more on collaboration across multiple sectors, with formal public health entities, such as health departments, providing direction and leadership. For communities to become places that truly promote health for everyone, work cannot be done in silos. Health care providers and public health entities must collaborate with business, recreation and fitness providers, schools, government officials, community planners, and any other professionals who have influence on how their communities are shaped. Public Health 3.0 is a recognition that for a community to be healthy, improvements in transportation, access to healthy food, the natural environment, housing, safety, and other areas must be made. In addition, Public Health 3.0 recognizes the significant need for public health data all the way down to the neighborhood level, and that increased financial investment is necessary to support communities in creating optimal health. Public Health 3.0 will be integral in the formation of the objectives for Healthy People 2030, which begins just a few short years from now. You can learn more about Public Health 3.0 here.
How Does Healthy People Apply to Me?
If you’re interested in learning about what your community is doing to reduce health disparities and want to get involved, www.healthypeople.gov has a list of State Healthy People Coordinators. These individuals can connect you to community health improvement initiatives at the county and/or municipal levels. On the NCHPAD website, you can find tools and strategies for making local Healthy People or other health improvement initiatives inclusive of people with disabilities. The www.healthypeople.gov website also has success stories from communities across the country, as well as, tools that help you examine health statistics for specific topic areas.