Our View: Clark County Health Dept. ahead of game 

Published 10:48 am Monday, February 6, 2017

Public Health 3.0 is a federal initiative aimed at changing the way local health departments address health issues in their communities.

The goal is to shift health departments to a population mindset working with partners in local, state and federal government in addition to the business community and others to encourage the overall health of the community rather than just being a provider of some health services. Health departments are encouraged to collaborate across the community and discover new opportunities to improve and modernize public health.

Social and economic factors, such as education, employment, income, family and social supports, and community safety, contribute to 40 percent of a typical person’s health. There is a correlation between improving someone’s socioeconomic status and improving their health, so an end goal for public health should be to help affect decisions that will lead to more prosperity throughout the community.

This means health department officials should be involved in planning and zoning and comprehensive planning and work closely with local government, economic development and the business community to make sure health and wellness issues are considered in all policy, infrastructure and even business decisions.

After learning more about the initiative, it’s clear the Clark County Health Department is ahead of the game. As Clark County Public Health Director Scott Lockard said, the local health department has been shifting toward this focus for the last five or six years, and there is tangible evidence to show it.

Locally, the health department is active with the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, which advocates for public bike lanes and sidewalks to make alternative transportation options more feasible, and the data collection that has been ongoing with the syringe exchange program, which can provide useful information for policymakers in this community and others.

The health department partners with the Agency for Substance Abuse Policy to teach the community about responding to overdoses and addressing the drug epidemic.

The health department has also successfully gathered sectors of the community to develop and revise the MAPP plan, which focuses on community issues like obesity, drug use and access to healthy foods.

If the mission of Public Health 3.0 is to encourage health departments to garner public involvement in decisions about the health of the community, it seems the local health department should be a model for others in the area to follow. Our community has much to be proud of when it comes to efforts to stay ahead of the game at the local level.