Health Report: Healthy Alaskans 2030 seeks public comment

Published: Aug. 25, 2020 at 4:03 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Healthy Alaskans 2030 (HA2030) is a state health improvement plan undertaken as a joint effort by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) and the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC).

The effort is currently open for public comment.

“It’s a roadmap for how we can improve on the most significant health issues that we face as a state together, at the community level, at the organizational level, and at the individual and family level,” Lisa McGuire, Public Health Quality and Performance Improvement Manager with the DHSS Division of Public Health, said.

According to McGuire, while most states have a health improvement plan, Alaska is unique in that its plan is led by a state and tribal partnership. She said the plan is updated every ten years, and contains priority health topics.

“The most significant health issues in Alaska tend to in some way mirror that of the nation as a whole in that heart disease is a significant health issue in Alaska, as well as death from cancer and unintentional injuries. In Alaska, there are some health issues that are somewhat unique to Alaska in that we have a very high rate of sexual assault. We have a high rate of suicide. So Healthy Alaskans 2030 really aims to target in on those Alaska-specific issues as well as the ones that we share in common with the nation as a whole,” McGuire said.

Dana Diehl, Director of Wellness and Prevention with the ANTHC, spoke about the benefits of the partnership between DHSS and ANTHC, saying, “From the tribal health perspective, it allows us to leverage resources together, but it also allows us to identify health disparities among the Alaska Native population and really focus some of the efforts on addressing those health disparities.”

According to Diehl, those disparities include higher rates of cancer, unintentional injury, and tobacco and alcohol use among Native Alaskan populations.

McGuire said that there is some carryover from the Healthy Alaskans 2020 (HA2020) plan, along with new items that had not been seen when HA2020 was being created, including eCigarettes.

Information about the draft of HA2030, including how to view and comment on the plan, is available at McGuire specified that the plan is currently in draft form, and efforts have been made to collect both quantitative and qualitative data, the latter through methods which include surveys, interviews and community listening sessions. “We’ve really gathered all of these data points together to create the draft plan that you see today, and there absolutely is time to comment on that.”

The deadline is September 2nd at 5pm. “If we get requests to extend that, we will, but we really encourage people to review the plan. Tell us what you think. Tell us if there’s anything missing. Tell us if we heard you correctly, because we got input in the beginning from Alaskans, and we really want input now before the plan is edited and finalized,” McGuire said.

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