Healthy People 2020 and Beyond

Inside NHPHA: A Monthly Column Written by NHPHA Leadership

Healthy People 2020 and Beyond

written by Joan H. Ascheim, MSN, Executive Director

The end of the year and beginning of a new one is typically a time for reflection on the accomplishments of the past and a look to the future. The end of a decade and ringing in of a new one (if one is of the mind that 2020 is the beginning of a new decade) calls for a deeper look into the past and a more futuristic view of the ensuing decade.

A glance into our files—both digital and hard copy—from a decade ago reveals just how long it takes to make change in the field of public health and points to the tenacity with which we need to do our work. In 2010 we were advocating for prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes to minors and requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets. We were concerned about the erosion of access to effective family planning and consideration being given to ending fluoride supplementation. And so it seems that we continue to fight the some of the very same battles nearly a decade later.

Our country was in a very different place in 2010. We had strong leadership that advocated for public health, and the Affordable Care Act was enacted—forging the path for millions of Americans to obtain health insurance and thus access to care. The recession was ending but unemployment was at 9.6 percent compared with a low of 3.5 percent today. Yet wealth inequity exists and is rising. It is well-known that income is disproportionately related to health outcomes and is a social determinant of health. Increasingly, public health has focused on the social determinants of health, including income, housing, food insecurity, transportation, racism, gender equity, and employment. We also cannot ignore the effects of climate change on the health of the public, a reality that becomes clearer every day.

NHPHA has been a steadfast partner with other advocates in the state to address health inequities in an effort to improve the public’s health. We supported the successful expansion of Medicaid and reasonable work requirements for recipients. We helped support passage of a childhood lead poisoning prevention bill that required increased screening of children, and we supported a bill to fully fund the Alcohol Abuse Prevention and Treatment Fund. We have advocated to increase the legal age for tobacco use, to increase the minimum wage, to fund family and medical leave, and to promote the use of greener energy sources. We are currently identifying our advocacy priorities for 2020 with our continued focus on health equity, the environment, and substance misuse prevention, treatment, and recovery.

We have also focused our workforce development initiatives on health equity, having co-hosted three health equity conferences with our partners Dartmouth-Hitchcock and the Vermont Public Health Association. This year we held our third Lobbying and Advocacy Primer for Non-Profit Organizations in collaboration with New Futures to educate non-profits on what they can do to advocate for key issues.

Addressing the social determinants of health can be daunting but at the same time exciting in that it calls for collaboration of partners from diverse sectors to improve the health of the population. We welcome the opportunity to strengthen our current partnerships and forge new ones as we begin the decade of the ’20s.

In good health,

Joan H. Ascheim

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