Calling on communities to take on the challenge of improving the health of their citizens, Governor Mary Fallin and Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Terry Cline presented Healthy Oklahoma 2020: Oklahoma Health Improvement Plan (OHIP) during an event at the Noble High School Sports Complex. The plan outlines strategies and sets goals to make Oklahomans healthier.
“In Oklahoma there are thousands of unnecessary deaths and billions of dollars spent annually to treat preventable illnesses,” said Fallin. “We are too good of a state to be this unhealthy. With the goals and strategies laid out in the Oklahoma 20/20 Health Improvement Plan, we will continue to chart a course forward and improve health outcomes for all Oklahomans.”
Healthy Oklahoma 2020 updates Oklahoma’s existing health improvement plan, which was created at the direction of the Legislature in 2008 and implemented in 2010. The new plan seeks to build on OHIP’s successes while addressing areas where Oklahoma has traditionally fallen short regarding the physical, social and mental wellbeing of all Oklahomans.
The updated OHIP is guided by four flagship issues – reducing tobacco use, reducing obesity, improving the health of children and improving behavioral health.
“This plan focuses on creating a culture of health,” said Dr. Cline. ”Making improvements in these flagship areas will have the greatest impact on the health of Oklahomans now and for future generations.”
During the first five years of OHIP, the state has seen reductions in the percentage of public high school students who are obese, a reduction in the infant mortality rate to the lowest number on record, and a reduction in tobacco use among adults and adolescents. Increases were seen in the number of schools that are tobacco-free and in schools working to create an environment that incorporates nutritious food and time for physical activity.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) and OHIP team recently held stakeholder meetings with various civic, tribal, school and faith groups to measure progress during the first five years of the plan and to determine what additional steps were needed to continue progress on health improvement in Oklahoma.
Results of these meetings reinforced the fact that there are challenges to be addressed during the next five years of OHIP. Many Oklahomans continue to be obese, a large number of pregnant women in Oklahoma do not receive needed prenatal care and many babies are born with low birth weight, especially among African-American people. Access to quality health services is still an issue for many Oklahomans.
“Despite these challenges, our conversations also reaffirmed that best practices exist today which, when implemented, will ensure our efforts lead to sustainable change,” said Dr. Cline. “We must create and assure conditions where the healthy choice is the easy choice to address the health challenges we face in our state and meet the goals of Healthy Oklahoma 2020.”
Noble was selected as the launch site for OHIP based on the efforts of the city, schools, businesses and churches to provide more healthy choices for their community. The city has achieved Certified Healthy Oklahoma Community-Excellence Level status for the past four years, and boasts many Certified Health Oklahoma businesses, schools, facilities and churches. Noble is located in Cleveland County, which holds the top overall health ranking in the state.
Other cities and counties recognized at the event included Purcell and McClain County (improved from 12th to 2nd overall), Durant and Bryan County (improved 22 positions in the county rankings) and Texas County.
To see the entire OHIP update, visit www.OHIP2020.com. The website will provide continuing updates on the progress in health improvement for Oklahoma during the next five years.