For Immediate Release: June 21, 2018
Vermont Department of Health
State Health Assessment Focuses on Health Equity
Assessment of Vermonters’ fair and just opportunity to be healthy
lays the foundation for 2018-2023 State Health Improvement Plan
BURLINGTON – Vermonters have long been ranked among the healthiest of Americans, but we are not all equally healthy, nor do we all have similar opportunities for good health, according to the newly released Vermont State Health Assessment 2018.
The twice a decade assessment on the current health status of Vermonters provides vital data for examining health inequities by race and ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic status and geography. The 72-page report, available at healthvermont.gov/sha, is the result of a year-long analysis of an extensive array of public health data, engagement by dozens of partner organizations, and public comment.
“The purpose of this assessment is to prioritize goals and objectives for public health in Vermont,” said Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD. “Where past assessments largely measured Vermonters’ health against public health goals, or in comparison to the U.S. population, this report examines the data through the lens of health equity,” Dr. Levine explained. “Health equity exists only when all Vermonters have a fair and just opportunity to be healthy.”
The 2018 assessment is organized around five themes: child and family health, chronic disease and injuries, environmental health, infectious disease, and access to care. In addition, four populations were chosen for special focus: people of color, those who identify as LGBTQ, people living with disabilities, and individuals of lower socioeconomic status.
“We chose to focus particularly on these populations based on the data, and of what is known about the health impact of the injustices these population groups have faced,” said Dr. Levine, “The impactful voices and stories of so many Vermonters have informed and enriched this assessment.” Dr. Levine also highlighted the importance of this data to state policy makers and health professionals. “This document allows us to look more deeply into the differences in health among us. To ask ourselves why these inequities exist and identify priority actions to address the underlying causes of health disparities.”
The five-year State Health Improvement Plan, also known as the SHIP, combines the data driven information of the Health Assessment with strategies to improve health outcomes and reduce inequities in priority areas. The SHIP is designed for partners across agencies and in multiple sectors. The priorities for the 2018-2023 State Health Improvement Plan are: chronic disease, early childhood, mental health, oral health, and substance use disorder. The new SHIP is expected to be completed by early autumn.
“This assessment lays a solid foundation and marks the way forward for our work together to improve health and health equity for all Vermonters,” said Dr. Levine.
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Health equity exists when all people have a fair and just opportunity to be healthy – especially those who have experienced socioeconomic disadvantage, historical injustice, and other systemic inequalities often associated with race, gender, ethnicity, social position, sexual orientation and disability.