HHS launches ``Leading health indicator'' goals for nation
WASHINGTON, Jan 25 (Reuters Health) -- The federal government on Tuesday launched a program to begin tracking what it called ``leading health indicators,'' calling on individuals and the country as a whole to begin better monitoring and taking care of its
Tuesday also marked the launch of Healthy People 2010, the third set of decade-long health goals for the nation.
``Today is an historic occasion,'' said Donna Shalala, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) at the Healthy People 2010 meeting here. ``We are not only launching the nation's public health strategy for the next decade, we're issuing the first public health goals of the 21st century.''
Shalala said, ``Healthy People 2010 is not just another federal plan to be printed, launched and shelved.''
Progress on the 10 leading health indicators, part of the Healthy People 2010 goals, will be reported annually by HHS. The 2010 goals also include 467 other objectives, measured through 28 focus areas. The aim is to reduce illness, disability, and premature death.
Shalala and Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher said the government would work even harder than in the past to heighten the nation's awareness of these goals, and to get people into action.
``The leading health indicators will be a way every community can measure how they are doing,'' Shalala said, likening them to the nation's leading economic indicators. ''These leading health indicators will be our nation's health report card,'' she said.
The 10 health indicators that will be closely tracked include: physical activity, obesity, tobacco use, substance abuse, responsible sexual behavior, mental health, injury and violence, environmental quality, immunization, and access to healthcare.
For instance, the target in physical activity for adults is to get at least 30% of adults exercising moderately for at least 30 minutes per day by 2010. Currently, only about 15% of adults nationally get such regular activity, according to HHS.
``We would like to get all of the American people up and moving,'' Satcher said.
The target for tobacco use is to reduce cigarette smoking by adolescents in grades 9-12 from the current 36% to 16% by 2010.
``You have to make it inconvenient for kids,'' said Shalala, adding, ``the states have to close down and tighten up.''
The new initiative follows on the Healthy People 2000 program, which, as of the current tally, only met with success in 15% of its goals. Satcher said, however, that trends indicated that when final data are in next spring, that 60% of goals would have been met.
He said the biggest problem areas included childhood obesity and asthma, where goals were far from being met.
The federal government also plans to be less of a micromanager by funneling more funds directly to communities and giving them more control over how the money is spent to enhance health locally.
``We are taking the resources to where the people are and have the problems,'' Shalala said. ``Our strategies are very different than they were 10 years ago.''