Day 5: Building On 20 Years of Success

We started off the week talking about the health care disparities that exist in the United States, and while they paint an ugly picture, the last 20 years have shown us that there have been improvements and that we will continue to see improvements. In order to see those improvements, we need to continue to fight for change and to play an active role in change.

For those of you reading these posts this week, how do you think you can be a part of the changing landscape of health care? What is the number one change that you would like to see and what do we need to make that change?

Excerpt from the American Public Health Association:

Let’s celebrate our accomplishments and talk about what it will take to become the Healthiest Nation in One Generation!

2015 marks the 20th anniversary of APHA coordinating National Public Health Week! The accomplishments of the public health community over the last two decades are significant. To become the Healthiest Nation in One Generation: experts need to support the integration of public health and primary care; policy decision makers need to understand and support funding for both a strong public health workforce and prevention programs proven to advance health; both national and local policy decision makers need to expand the consideration of health implications in all the policies they create; and the general public needs to make healthy choices for themselves and demand that everyone has an equal opportunity to make those same choices.

Facts & Stats:

Some of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th Century – according to the CDC (and we agree!) include:

  • Healthier Mothers & Babies – Infant and maternal mortality rates have decreased in the U.S. Environmental interventions, improvements in nutrition, advances in clinical medicine, improvements in access to health care, improvements in surveillance and monitoring of disease, increases in education levels, and improvements in standards of living contributed to this remarkable decline.
  • Immunizations – Today, U.S. vaccination coverage is at record high levels! National efforts to promote vaccine use among all children has helped eradicate Smallpox and dramatically decrease the number of cases of Polio, Measles, Hib and other diseases in the U.S.
  • Motor Vehicle Safety – We’ve seen a huge reduction in the rate of death attributable to motor vehicle crashes in the United States, which represents the successful public health response to a great technologic advancement (the motorization of America). The response has spanned government, public health and driver and passenger behavior.
  • Family Planning – Increased contraception use, public health education and other factors mean that, today, Americans face fewer unintended pregnancies and are far more likely to achieve desired birth spacing and family size.
  • Tobacco as a Health Hazard – During 1964-1992, approximately 1.6 million deaths caused by smoking were prevented thanks to substantial public health efforts.
  • Decline in Deaths from Heart Attack & Stroke – Still the country’s top killers, the public health community has helped achieve remarkable declines in deaths from both diseases: since 1950, deaths from cardiovascular disease have declined 60 percent, and stroke rates have declined 70 percent.

(For more visit http://www.cdc.gov/about/history/tengpha.htm)

What’s next? Together we can create the healthiest nation in one generation.

We have a lot of challenges to overcome, but it all starts with a simple first step:

Sign the pledge to show your commitment.  Ask others to sign as well because the more people who sign, the more influence we have to drive change.

Sign the petition to ask our leaders to do their part.  It will take change at both the local and national level to ensure our communities make a positive impact on our health.

See below

Day 4: Building Broader Communities

Public Health involves us coming together as a community to create change. Very little happens when we do work as an individual, but when we come together in coalitions we can impact the health of our communities. When looking to build these coalitions, think outside of the box and go beyond your normal partners. Sometimes the unlikeliest partner will actually be the best partner that you could have.

The examples below show how partners that cross many sectors can create wonderful change

Facts & Stats:

  • Individual workers, unions, employers, government agencies, scientists, state labor and health authorities, and others have worked together to make a significant difference in workplace conditions and safety, vastly reducing workplace injuries and death.
  • Fighting Big Tobacco to reduce the prevalence of tobacco use in the U.S. would not have been possible without the combined efforts of a broad coalition of government officials, public health groups, scientists, economists, and educators. Scientific evidence proved the relationship between disease and tobacco use / environmental exposure to tobacco. Funders and advocates spread this information to the public, and fought for nonsmokers’ rights. Government officials and agencies (together with advocates and voters!) passed tobacco taxes, restricted smoking in public spaces, and limited how tobacco companies could advertise.
  • Public health action, together with scientific and technologic advances, have played a major role in reducing and in some cases eliminating the spread of infectious disease, and in establishing today’s disease surveillance and control systems.
  • Reducing death and injury attributable to motor vehicles has required an all-hands-on-deck approach. In 1966, passage of the Highway Safety Act and the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act authorized the federal government to set and regulate standards for motor vehicles and highways, and many changes in both vehicle and highway design followed that mandate. Drivers and passengers also changed their behaviors, in part thanks to significant public health and safety campaigns. Governments and communities recognized the need for motor-vehicle safety, which prompted programs by federal and state governments, academic institutions, community-based organizations, and industry.

(For more visit http://www.cdc.gov/about/history/tengpha.htm)

What’s next? Together we can create the healthiest nation in one generation.

We have a lot of challenges to overcome, but it all starts with a simple first step:

Sign the pledge to show your commitment.  Ask others to sign as well because the more people who sign, the more influence we have to drive change.

Sign the petition to ask our leaders to do their part.  It will take change at both the local and national level to ensure our communities make a positive impact on our health.

Day 3: Building Momentum

We have learned that health is not an individual issue. What we are most recently learning (sometimes the hard way) is that health is not just an issue for the medical world, the government, and those interested in public health. Health is an issue that everyone has to be concerned about and this includes entities within the government, non-profit and community settings, and even the for profit world. Below are some great momentous activities that have been going on.

I’m particualry excited about the decision of cvs to stop selling tobacco products. That was a huge step for them to take and a huge risk since tobaccos sales are a big part of these pharmacy and wellness stores. It makes sense that a store focused on health and wellness would stop selling products that are the exact opposite of health and well-being. I think that there are other things that they could be looking at as well, but this was a huge step and I hope the Walgreens, Rite Aids and other stores of the world will catch up as well.

Debates around the Affordable Care Act have brought added attention to prevention and public health. As a result, we’re beginning to see a broad range of influential organizations taking important steps in line with creating the Healthiest Nation. Yet, as we celebrate the gains we’ve made, a key challenge will be to expand and build upon this momentum.

Facts & Stats:

  • At APHA, we’ve developed a strategic plan for the public health community to help America become the Healthiest Nation in One Generation!
  • Robert Wood Johnson is re-positioning the foundation’s work behind the goal of “creating a culture of health.”
  • In 2014, the American Planning Association – the organization of professionals who help communities plan for growth and change – for the first time dedicated a full day of their annual meeting to health.
  • The First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative is gaining traction in addressing childhood obesity & raising a healthier generation of kids.
  • Even in the for-profit sector we see companies seeking a better balance between their profits and the health of their customers:
    • CVS Health has stopped selling tobacco products and has expanded their programs to help people quit.
    • Sixteen major food and beverage companies reduced the calories in the products they sold by 6.4 trillion calories.

What’s next? Together we can create the healthiest nation in one generation.

We have a lot of challenges to overcome, but it all starts with a simple first step:

Sign the pledge to show your commitment.  Ask others to sign as well because the more people who sign, the more influence we have to drive change.

Sign the petition to ask our leaders to do their part.  It will take change at both the local and national level to ensure our communities make a positive impact on our health.

Day 2: Starting from Zip

So I got a little behind in posting each day this week, but this is still very important information. There is a lot of work going on in the U.S. in terms of life expectancy and zip codes. I would love to do some of this research in Michigan and specifically with the metro area. Although knowing this data doesn’t automatically solve problems, its a great place to start awareness and create the buy-in that is necessary to make changes on a large scale.

If you take a lot at the links below you can see that Wayne County has over 9,000 years of potential life lost before 75 in 100,000 people. Compare this to just over 5,000 in Washtenaw County.

Facts & Stats:

  • In the area served by the Washington, D.C. metro system, communities only 12 miles from each other can have a nine year difference in life expectancy! (Source: RWJ Commission to Build a Healthier America graphic via APHA website)
  • In the U.S. there is a 13% difference (9 years) in life expectancy between states.
  • Use these great resources to find specific data for how your county and state rank!

What’s next? Together we can create the healthiest nation in one generation.

We have a lot of challenges to overcome, but it all starts with a simple first step:

Sign the pledge to show your commitment.  Ask others to sign as well because the more people who sign, the more influence we have to drive change.

Sign the petition to ask our leaders to do their part.  It will take change at both the l

National Public Health Week- Raising the Grade

National Public Health Week- Raising the Grade

Today is the first day of National Public Health Week (#NPHW). I will be sharing posts and information regarding the daily themes.

Today’s theme is raising the grade. It’s sad to think that the U.S. is so far behind the curve in terms of health care yet we have the highest medical expenditures (17.9 of the Gross Domestic Product expenditures). In this case high spending does not equal quality.

Below is some information from the American Public Health Association regarding our current status.

What does the data reveal about America’s health?

The U.S. doesn’t have the top health care system – we have a great “sick care” system. We have great doctors, state-of-the-art hospitals and we’re leaders in advanced procedures and pharmaceuticals. But studies consistently show that despite spending twice as much, we trail other countries in life expectancy and almost all other measures of good health. This holds true across all ages and income levels. So what is missing?  We need a stronger public health system that supports healthy communities and moves us toward preventing illness, disease and injury.

Facts & Stats:

We’ve seen some improvements!

In 2013:

  • Smoking continued its decline from 19.6% to 19.0% of the adult population.
  • Immunization coverage increased from 64% to 67.1% of adolescents aged 13 to 17 years.
  • We have many successes like increasing life expectancy, reducing infant mortality and declining cardiovascular deaths – but other countries are succeeding faster than we are.

And yet, compared to peers in other countries, people in the U. S. have…

  • Shorter lives – Over the past 25 years U.S. life expectancy has grown, but at a slower rate than in other countries. Studies consistently show we have a lower life expectancy than comparable countries.
  • Adverse birth outcomes – we have the highest infant mortality rate, low birth weights, the highest rate of women dying due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth and children are less likely to live to age 5.
  • Highest rates of injury and homicides – deaths from motor vehicle crashes, non-transportation injuries and violence occur at much higher rates than in other countries.
  • Heart disease – the U.S. death rate from ischemic heart disease is the second highest; at age 50 Americans have a less favorable cardiovascular risk profile and adults over age 50 are more likely to develop and die from cardiovascular disease
  • Obesity and diabetes – For decades the U.S. has had the highest obesity rates across all age groups and adults are among the highest prevalence of diabetes.
  • Chronic lung disease – Lung disease is more prevalent and associated with higher mortality.
  • Disability – Older U.S. adults report a higher prevalence of arthritis and activity limitations.
  • Adolescent pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease – our adolescents had the highest rate of pregnancies and are more likely to acquire sexually transmitted diseases.
  • HIV and AIDS – we have the second highest prevalence of HIV infection among 17 peer countries and the highest incidence of AIDS.
  • Drug related mortality – we lose more years of life to alcohol and other drugs than people in peer countries even when deaths from drunk driving are excluded. In fact the President’s 2014 National Drug Control Strategy noted that drug induced overdose deaths now surpass homicides and car crash deaths.

What’s next? Together we can create the healthiest nation in one generation.

We have a lot of challenges to overcome, but it all starts with a simple first step:

Sign the pledge to show your commitment.  Ask others to sign as well because the more people who sign, the more influence we have to drive change.

Sign the petition to ask our leaders to do their part.  It will take change at both the local and national level to ensure our communities make a positive impact on our health.