By: Dr. Louise Lex
Some plans are started with enthusiastic committees meeting about issues and then completed with an impressive document. Healthy Iowans 2017-2021, Iowa’s Health Improvement Plan, fits a different mold. It pulls together lots of other plans from agencies, programs, and advisory committees. The plan sets an actionable public health agenda that can impact the health of every person living in Iowa. It is expected that addressing key issues in the five-year plan will advance the health of all Iowans so they can live longer, healthier, more productive lives, and enjoy a rich quality of life—the overarching goal.
Healthy Iowans highlights the collective nature of public health and the importance of broad engagement; it involved an estimated 20,000 Iowans. Central to the plan are 26 issues and themes that matter to Iowans because stakeholders in all 99 counties played a pivotal role in selecting them. In an acknowledgment to their efforts, the counties with related strategies are listed for each issue or theme.
Partners that submitted goals, objectives, and strategies in the plan agreed to take steps to reach the overarching goal. Each year, the Iowa Department of Public Health asks these partners to assess progress and identify changes to maintain the plan’s relevance. In 2018, about 90 organizations were involved in this evaluation.
Promising trends during the first year of implementation include but are not limited to a reduction in lung cancer cases, a continuation of a declining coronary heart disease mortality rate, reduction in tobacco use among adults and youth, reduction in the exposure of children to pesticides, and increased numbers of children enrolled in Iowa’s Child Health Insurance Program. On the other hand, there were negative trends causing concern. Among them are continued high rates of obesity, deaths from opioid overdoses, increased suicides, and lack of attention to transportation, poverty, and disaster preparedness in the plan.
Clearly, evidence in the plan shows that the hard work to improve the health of Iowans must go on.
The Current Plan (revised July 2018) and the 2018 Progress Report are posted on the Healthy Iowans website: http://idph.iowa.gov/healthy-iowans/plan