Healthy People 2020

December 01, 2010

HHS announces the nation’s new 10-year goals for health promotion and disease prevention at GW.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services unveiled “Healthy People 2020,” a set of national objectives for promoting health and preventing disease in the U.S., Thursday at the George Washington University’s Jack Morton Auditorium.

The Healthy People national agenda centers around the power of prevention and envisions a society where all people will be able to live long, healthy lives.

“Too many people are not reaching their full potential for health because of preventable conditions,” said Assistant Secretary for Health Howard K. Koh. “Healthy People is the nation’s roadmap and compass for better health, providing our society with a vision for improving both the quantity and quality of life for all Americans.”

Chronic diseases, like heart disease, cancer and diabetes, are responsible for seven out of every 10 deaths among Americans each year and account for 75 percent of the nation’s health spending. But many of the risk factors associated with these diseases are preventable.

Healthy People 2020 contains four main goals. The first is to attain high quality and longer lives free of preventable disease, disability, injury and premature death. The second is to achieve healthy equity, eliminate disparities and improve health of all groups, and the third is to create social and physical environments that promote good health for all. The final goal is to promote quality of life, healthy development and healthy behaviors across all stages.

“The health of an individual is almost inseparable from the health of a larger community, and the health of every community determines the health of a nation,” said Dr. Koh.

GW President Steven Knapp thanked Dr. Koh for making the announcement at GW and giving GW students an opportunity to see public health in action.

Josef Reum, professor and senior associate dean for GW’s School of Public Health and Health Services, emceed the event, and Richard Riegelman, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics and founding dean of SPHHS was a panelist.

The Healthy People initiative, which first launched in 1980, is grounded in the principle that setting national objectives and monitoring progress can motivate action, and HHS says they are seeing results. In the last decade, the country has either progressed toward or met 71 percent of its Healthy People targets, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

HHS also announced a special challenge to encourage software developers to create easy-to-use applications for public health professionals who are working with the new national health objectives and state- and community-level health data. The myHealthyPeople App Challenge requires that these applications be easy to access through a web browser or mobile device.

“This milestone in disease prevention and health promotion creates an opportunity to leverage information technology to make Healthy People come alive for all Americans in their communities and workplaces,” said HHS Chief Technology Officer Todd Park. “The ‘myHealthyPeople’ Apps Challenge will help spur innovative approaches to helping communities track their progress using Healthy People objectives and targets as well as develop an agenda for health improvement.”

Developer submissions are due March 7, and the awards will be announced March 21. First place winners will get $2,500, second gets $1,000, and third $500.

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