Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Healthy Baltimore 2015

Last month, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation issued the second annual County Health Rankings. As it did last year, Baltimore City ranked last in the state. 

One statistic in particular stuck out: 14,887. That’s the number of years of potential life lost before the age of 75.  Put simply, far too many Baltimore City residents are dying before their time.

Statistics like these give great urgency to the work we do to improve the health of our city, our neighborhoods and our residents.  It also makes clear that traditional medical or public health approaches aren’t working and it’s time to try something different.

That conversation starts today with the release of Healthy Baltimore 2015.

This comprehensive health policy agenda highlights 10 priority areas that account for the greatest morbidity and mortality in Baltimore.  These areas were chosen because there are evidence-based interventions proven to make a difference.  The plan looks at the relevance of where we live, work and play on health outcomes, as oftentimes they play as significant a role in making us sick as they do in keeping us healthy.

The city has set ambitious, yet reachable, improvement goals for the following priority areas:

1. Promote access to quality health care for all. 

2. Be tobacco free. 

3. Redesign Communities to Prevent Obesity.

4. Promote Heart Health.

5. Stop the spread of HIV and other STIs. 

6. Recognize and Treat Mental Health Disorders. 

7. Reduce Drug Use and Alcohol Abuse.

8. Encourage early detection of cancer.

9. Promote Healthy Children and Adolescents.   

10. Create Health Promoting Neighborhoods. 

For more information on the specific indicators we will use to measure progress in these areas, please view the full Healthy Baltimore 2015 report.

As you can see, there is much work to be done. Healthy Baltimore 2015 makes clear that we all play a role in improving the health of our city.

Over the course of the next several weeks to months, we will work with partners throughout the city to flesh out a 3-pronged approach to moving the needle for each of the leading indicators, including policy development; prevention, quality, and access; and community engagement.  Later this spring, senior leaders within the department will visit communities around the city to share this plan and the updated neighborhood health profiles.  We hope communities will put this information to use in designing new strategies and interventions for tackling the top priorities they identify for creating health promoting environments.

Let me be clear: the health department alone cannot successfully execute Healthy Baltimore 2015.  We welcome all motivated neighborhood leaders, individual citizens, aca­demic institutions, community-based organizations, business owners and the media to join us in this effort as partners in health. 

Partners can contribute to the success of Healthy Baltimore 2015 in many ways. These varying levels of engagement include, but are not limited to:

  • Communication – displaying or distributing health information materials within each of the ten priority areas.
  • Facilitation – actively participating in interventions such as incorporating wellness at work programs into the business day.
  • Integration – actively considering the potential health impacts of pending business or policy decisions.
To become a partner, please email me at health.commissioner@baltimorecity.gov. Together, we can reshape the landscape to make Baltimore City a place where all residents realize their full health potential. 

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