Report raises concerns about regional health challenges

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Report raises concerns about regional health challenges

A report by researchers at the Central Valley Health Policy Institute (CVHPI) at California State University, Fresno reveals the central San Joaquin Valley is not making progress toward meeting “Healthy People 2010” objectives.

The report, “Healthy People 2010: A 2007 Profile of Health Status in the San Joaquin Valley,” also concludes that the region is unlikely to reach a majority of target measures by the end of this decade.

An assessment of progress Valley residents have made among 10 leading health indicators and 22 objectives since 2005 is accompanied by information about numerous initiatives by public health departments and other groups working together to address key challenges.

“Healthy People 2010” is a national initiative designed to achieve a set of health objectives in the decade. It was developed with two overarching goals: increasing the quality and years of healthy life and eliminating health disparities.

The health indicators are physical activity; overweight and obesity; tobacco use; substance abuse; responsible sexual behavior; mental health; injury and violence; environmental quality; immunization; and access to care.

Findings in “2007 Profile” indicate that the Valley met or exceeded three out of 22 health objectives when compared to “Healthy People 2010” targets. The three are physical activity among adults, tobacco use among adolescents and adolescent immunizations.

The Valley did worse than California and the nation in seven areas: motor vehicle fatalities, homicide, air quality, childhood immunization, influenza shots, prenatal care and adult physical activity.

Although the Valley has experienced little progress in reaching many of objectives, when compared to the institute’s “2005 Profile,” there was improvement in tobacco use, environmental quality, childhood immunizations and teen immunizations. The report also reveals that the Valley made better progress in reaching the target measure for adult binge drinking than California did as a whole.

The report was written by Dr. Marlene Bengiamin, senior research associate for the institute and principal author; Dr. John Capitman, institute executive director; and Xi Chang, a student researcher at the institute.

During a press conference Tuesday, May 27, to announce the report’s publication, authors highlighted three major health issues that need more attention or discussion: responsible sexual behavior, injury and violence and access to health care.

“The economic and social conditions under which people live, play a major role in the lack of progress that the region has made among many of the health indicators,” said Bengiamin. “Poverty, unemployment, economic inequality, a disproportionate share of resources, race and where one resides are major factors fueling these negative health outcomes.”

The authors underscore the need for a new focus on local responsibilities and nontraditional collaborations, which have proved effective in addressing such challenges as obesity and overweight, physical inactivity and poor air quality.

The Central Valley Health Policy Institute, founded in 2002 with the financial assistance of The California Endowment, engages regional residents and decision makers in health policy discussions and activities. The institute is one of the Valley’s leading repositories for health policy education, research, training, technical assistance and leadership.

CVHPI is housed under the Central California Center for Health and Human Services and the College of Health and Human Services at Fresno State.

“Healthy People 2010: A 2007 Profile” is online at www.csufresno.edu/ccchhs/institutes_programs/CVHPI/publications/index.shtml.

Additional information about the Central Valley Health Policy Institute is available at www.cvhpi.org <http://www.cvhpi.org/> .