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Healthy People 2020: New Initiatives

Healthy People 2020: New InitiativesHealthy People 2010 was a set of health objectives for the United States to achieve over the first decade of the new century used to help groups develop programs to improve health. We are still working toward meeting some of the 2010 goals, and new initiatives for Healthy People 2020 have been announced. They are:

1. Improve the healthy development, health, safety, and well-being of adolescents and young adults. Adolescents and young adults (ages 20 to 24) comprise 21 percent of the population of the US. Positively influencing behavioral patterns formed during these years helps determine young people's current health and can reduce their risk for developing chronic diseases as adults.

2. Prevent illness and disability related to blood disorders and the use of blood products. Blood disorders include hemoglobinopathies and abnormal bleeding and clotting. Hemoglobinopathies are inherited, lifelong blood disorders that result in abnormal hemoglobin. Complications of bleeding and clotting disorders can be prevented if the conditions are recognized and treated early.

3. Reduce the morbidity and costs associated with, and maintain or enhance the quality of life for, persons with dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning—thinking, remembering, and reasoning—to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life. Dementia is not a disease itself, but rather a set of symptoms. Memory loss is a common symptom of dementia, although memory loss by itself does not mean a person has dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for the majority of all diagnosed cases.

4. Document and track population-based measures of health and well-being for early and middle childhood populations over time in the United States. There is increasing recognition that early and middle childhood provides the physical, cognitive, and social-emotional foundation for lifelong health, learning, and well-being. Healthy People 2010 addressed the earliest stages of childhood through goals for Maternal, Infant, and Child Health, but the early and middle childhood stages of development were not highlighted. To address this gap, the Early and Middle Childhood topic area was included in Healthy People 2020.

5. Improve health and prevent harm through valid and useful genomic tools in clinical and public health practices. This initiative reflects the increasing evidence in support of using genetic tests and family health history to guide clinical and public health interventions. This decade begins with recommendations from independent panels on genetic testing based on thorough reviews of scientific evidence.

Women with certain high-risk family health history patterns for breast and ovarian cancer could benefit from receiving genetic counseling to learn about genetic testing for BRCA1/2. For women with BRCA1/2 mutations, surgery could potentially reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancer by 85 percent or more.

All people who are newly diagnosed with colorectal cancer should receive counseling and educational materials about genetic testing. Family members could benefit from knowing whether the colorectal cancer in their family is a hereditary form called Lynch syndrome. Screening interventions could potentially reduce the risk of colorectal cancer among men and women with Lynch syndrome by 60 percent.

6. Improve public health and strengthen U.S. national security through global disease detection, response, prevention, and control strategies. The health of the U.S. population can be affected by public health threats or events across the globe such as the 2003 SARS epidemic and the 2009 spread of novel H1N1 influenza. Improving global health can improve health in the US and support national and global security interests.

7. Prevent, reduce, and ultimately eliminate healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). HAIs are infections that patients get while receiving treatment for medical or surgical conditions. They are among the leading causes of preventable deaths in the US and are associated with significant increases in healthcare costs each year.

These high-priority objectives concern central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI) and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections.

According to the HHS Action Plan to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections, nearly three out of four HAIs in the acute care hospital setting are a result of one of these types of infections, listed in order of prevalence:

  • Catheter-associated urinary tract infections
  • Surgical site infections
  • Bloodstream infections
  • Pneumonia

8. Improve the health, safety, and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals. LGBT individuals include members of all races and ethnicities, religions, and social classes. Research suggests that LGBT individuals face health disparities linked to societal stigma, discrimination, and denial of their civil and human rights. There is a need for more research to document, understand, and address the environmental factors that contribute to health disparities in the LGBT community.

9. Improve the health, function, and quality of life of older adults. Older adults are among the fastest-growing age groups; the first “baby boomers” will turn 65 in 2011. More than 37 million people in this group (60 percent) will be faced with more than one chronic condition by 2030. Older adults are at high risk for developing chronic illnesses and related disabilities, including diabetes mellitus, arthritis, congestive heart failure and dementia.

10. Improve the nation’s ability to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from a major health incident. The Healthy People 2020 objectives for preparedness are based on a set of national priorities set forth in the National Health Security Strategy of the United States of America (NHSS). Its main goals are to build community resilience and to strengthen and sustain health and emergency response systems.

11. Increase public knowledge of how adequate sleep and treatment of sleep disorders improve health, productivity, wellness, quality of life, and safety on roads and in the workplace. Poor sleep health is an increasing problem; 25 percent of US adults report insufficient sleep or rest at least 15 out of every 30 days. The public health burden of chronic sleep loss and sleep disorders and low awareness of poor sleep health necessitates a comprehensive strategy to improve sleep-related health.

We encourage you to read more about Healthy People 2020. To do so, visit their website at www.healthypeople.gov.

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