Saturday, June 05, 2010

Health improvement program helps everyone live healthier lives

For the last few years I have served on the Carlton, Cook, Lake and St. Louis Counties Community Health Services Board (CHB). This regional organization works to collectively prevent disease and promote healthy living. Many things we take for granted fall in this charge. These would include safe water and food, healthy sanitary conditions, immunizations and active disease prevention. For every diphtheria/tetanus shot that is given over $17 is saved by the public. For every $1 spent on pregnant women in the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) nutritional program well over $4 for newborns and mothers is saved in Medicaid costs.

Of the many programs the CHB is coordinating in our region and in the Hillside neighborhoods is the SHIP-Statewide Health Improvement Program. SHIP’s goal is to help Minnesotans live longer, healthier lives by reducing the burden of chronic disease. This will be done by implementing policy and practices to reduce obesity and tobacco use. Statewide 63 percent of adults are overweight or obese and 18 percent are smokers. Less that 25 percent consume the recommended servings of fruit and vegetables and only 50 percent meet the recommendations for physical activity. Minnesota had been the healthiest state in the US but we have now slipped to 4th.

There are many steps we can take to turn this around for ourselves, families and communities. Many new projects have begun in our schools, worksites and neighborhoods. If you would like to be involved or have questions please contact me or Jim Skoog at St. Louis County Public Health and Human Services at 725-5240 or Jim coordinates many of the SHIP activities in the Hillside neighborhoods.

Steve O’Neil