March 26, 2014
Concord, NH – Rockingham County remains the healthiest county in New Hampshire, while Coos County continues to rank as the least healthy in the fifth annual County Health Rankings, released today by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI), which looks at every county in the United States. This year’s rankings are broken out into two overall measures for the first time: Health Outcomes, which measure how healthy a county is, and Health Factors, which look at the influences on health in any given county. For Health Factors, Rockingham is still leading and Coos is still at the greatest disadvantage. The positions of the other counties, however, are very different in each category.
The Rankings, available at www.countyhealthrankings.org, include a snapshot of each county in New Hampshire with a color-coded map comparing each county’s overall health ranking. Researchers looked at the length and quality of life to determine Health Outcomes. Health Factors include measures of health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment.
“This report emphasizes that where you live can have a direct impact on your health,” said Dr. José Montero, Director of Public Health at the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. “We know the specific factors that can shorten someone’s life, such as smoking and poor diet, but we often fail to realize the other factors that can contribute to our longevity, such as access to and the quality of healthcare, how walkable neighborhoods are, how clean our air and water are, and how safe the community is where we live. Here in New Hampshire, there is some exciting work being done to help make changes in public health at the local and regional levels, such as the State Health Improvement Plan and the Public Health Advisory Councils in our thirteen Public Health Regions.”
The State Health Improvement Plan was released in 2013 and is the result of months of work by many partners and organizations that identified 10 priority areas for improvement with measureable objectives and targets for health outcomes, areas for needed attention in public health capacity, and recommendations for evidence-based interventions and actions. It is intended to provide support, guidance, and focus for communities throughout the State and act as the roadmap for public health going forward with the aim of significantly improving the health of the people of New Hampshire.
At a regional level, 13 local agencies are funded to host a regional Public Health Network. These community-based partnerships help provide public health infrastructure and were aligned in 2013 with the substance misuse prevention system in New Hampshire. That alignment has led to a new initiative to convene a Public Health Advisory Council in each region, which are intended to establish regional public health priorities based on assessments of community health; improve efficiency through coordination of public health activities; and leverage the strengths of individual entities working on various health improvement initiatives.
For more information about the Division of Public Health Services visit the DHHS website at www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs.