How do we know we’re healthy? What the Healthy Alaskans project can tell us
What are the things that indicate good health? We might think of good health as eating traditional foods, exercising, or getting the flu shot. We might also think of poor health indicators that we want to avoid, such as being in the hospital, getting injured, or having an illness like cancer or diabetes.
Looking at these health indicators are just a few of the ways the Healthy Alaskans program is helping improve health for all Alaskans. Healthy Alaskans is a state health improvement plan that helps create solutions for the top health issues facing Alaskans. Since 2000, teams of experts, statewide health organizations, and community members have been working on creating and updating this statewide health improvement plan. Every decade Healthy Alaskans chooses new health goals to focus on. Healthy Alaskans then measures the goals with reliable data sources and creates proven strategies to try to improve health outcomes.
Over the past decade, the Healthy Alaskans 2020 project (HA2020) was managed as a joint partnership between the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and the State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and focused on 32 specific health indicators with a range of topics, including:
- Reduce the number of Alaskans experiencing poor mental health
- Reduce the number of Alaskans experiencing alcohol and other drug dependence and abuse
- Reduce the proportion of Alaskans experiencing infectious disease
- Reduce the proportion of Alaskans without access to high quality and affordable health care
By looking at these indicators, we can better answer the question, “Are Alaskans healthy?” These topics are meant to encompass a variety of health problems that are relevant to different age groups, regional groups, socioeconomic groups, and ethnicities. From obesity in children, to suicide mortality in adults, the program tracks indicators and progress towards goals for each health area across our state population.
Since 2010, eight of the indicators meet the goals set, and a few others have made progress since the initial measurement. This information is essential to form policy, pass new laws and seek funding to support programs that can make the overall changes necessary for a healthier Alaska.
As the Healthy Alaskans team is in the process of choosing the next decade’s health indicators and goals, they are using these past successes to prioritize and better understand what health areas of focus should be in Healthy Alaskans 2030.
Learn more about the 2020 Healthy Alaskans indicators and their progress here.