The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and United Health Foundation announced that the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is the 2013 winner of the inaugural America's Health Rankings® Champion Award.
The award recognizes a state or territorial health department that uses data from the rankings to improve its state's health outcomes, including addressing health disparities, and to build relationships with local health departments and other partners.
United Health Foundation's America's Health Rankings® is the longest-running report of its kind. For 23 years, the Rankings has provided an analysis of national health on a state-by-state basis by evaluating a comprehensive set of health, environmental and socioeconomic data to determine national health benchmarks and state rankings. This process reveals improvements and deterioration in important health indicators.
One of the initiatives to which MDH has applied the America's Health Rankings indicators is the Minnesota Statewide Health Improvement Program, which targets the leading causes of chronic disease: tobacco use and obesity. Since the program's launch in 2009, nearly 300 cities have worked to improve walkability and bikeability by adding trails and sidewalks; 580 child-care businesses have enhanced their nutrition education programs for more than 10,000 children; and farm-to-school efforts connecting local farmers and schools have expanded to include 440 schools serving 235,000 students.
"We are honored to be the first state to win the America's Health Rankings Champion Award," said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Edward Ehlinger, M.D., MSPH. "The Minnesota Department of Health uses the Rankings to inform and motivate our department programs and community partners in a shared effort to make Minnesota the healthiest state possible."
Minnesota leaders have rallied around America's Health Rankings as an important source of health data and as a call to action. Gov. Mark Dayton uses the ranking indicators to evaluate his administration's effectiveness, and Ehlinger frequently cites America's Health Rankings in his work, examining it to determine Minnesota's health strengths and areas for improvement. MDH also uses the ranking indicators to monitor progress on the Healthy Minnesota 2020 Statewide Health Improvement Framework.
Minnesota includes partners at the state, local and community levels in their efforts to improve health outcomes using the rankings, collaborating closely with local health departments, departments of education and transportation, local schools, chambers of commerce, and farmers.
"The Minnesota Department of Health utilizes America's Health Rankings as a true driver for change," said Paul Jarris, M.D., MBA, executive director of ASTHO. "We are proud of the leadership the state has shown using these indicators to address smoking, obesity, diabetes, infant mortality and other health issues."
"With America's Health Rankings, it is essential to focus not only on reporting health results, but improving them," said Reed Tuckson, M.D., senior medical adviser to United Health Foundation. "The full title of the report is America's Health Rankings: A Call to Action for Individuals & Their Communities. The call to action is an essential component of the mission of this project. As such, we are excited by, and appreciative of the work done by the Minnesota Department of Health to use this report for targeted and effective action in service to advancing optimal health for their state."
About America's Health Rankings
America's Health Rankings® is the longest-running report of its kind. For 23 years, the Rankings has provided an analysis of national health on a state-by-state basis by evaluating a historical and comprehensive set of health, environmental and socioeconomic data to determine national health benchmarks and state rankings. The Rankings employs a unique methodology, developed and annually reviewed by a Scientific Advisory Committee of leading public health scholars. The data in the report come from well-recognized outside sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Medical Association, FBI, Dartmouth Atlas Project, U.S. Department of Education and Census Bureau. The report is reviewed and overseen by a Scientific Advisory Committee, with members from leading academic institutions, government agencies and the private sector. For more information, visit www.americashealthrankings.org.
ASTHO is the national nonprofit organization representing the public health agencies of the United States, the U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia, as well as the more than 100,000 public health professionals these agencies employ. ASTHO members, the chief health officials of these jurisdictions, are dedicated to formulating and influencing sound public health policy and to ensuring excellence in state-based public health practice. Web: www.astho.org; Twitter: @ASTHO.
About United Health Foundation
Guided by a passion to help people live healthier lives, United Health Foundation provides helpful information to support decisions that lead to better health outcomes and healthier communities. The Foundation also supports activities that expand access to quality health care services for those in challenging circumstances and partners with others to improve the well-being of communities. After its establishment by UnitedHealth Group [NYSE: UNH] in 1999 as a not-for-profit, private foundation, the Foundation has committed more than $210 million to improve health and health care. For additional information, please visit www.unitedhealthfoundation.org.