Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

March 25, 2013

Coalition identifies health priorities

Obesity and substance abuse are top issues

Mike James
The Independent

GREENUP — A coalition of health agencies and community organizations looking for ways to improve health and streamline health care in the county have identified obesity and substance abuse as the top issues to focus on.

The coalition came to the conclusion the two issues were the ones its members had the best ability to combat, said Greenup County Health Department director Chris Crum.

Also, they are among the health issues that impact more Greenup countians.

A survey by the coalition showed that more than half in the county are highly concerned about obesity and the related issues of diabetes and high blood pressure, Crum said.

And newly released health rankings show that Greenup County, although in better shape overall than the previous year, fared poorly in physical environment, a significant factor in obesity.

“By tackling our lowest rated health factor ... we expect to see a consistent gradual improvement in that category by increasing opportunities to be physically active in a safe environment,” Crum said.

The county is well positioned to work on drug abuse because it has two organizations — the Greenup County Drug-Free Coalition and Greenup County Champions for a Healthy Community — with the existing mechanisms to create and operate programs to combat drug abuse, Crum said.

The coalition was formed in 2009 to coordinate the efforts of health agencies and health care providers to foster cooperation and avoid duplication of services. Since then it has also helped land millions of dollars worth of grants, he said.

The coalition identified 10 essential public health services which are, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: monitoring, diagnosing and investigating health problems and hazards, informing and educating, mobilizing partnerships, developing policies and plans, enforcing laws and regulations, linking the public with needed health services, assuring a competent health care workforce, evaluating the effectiveness, accessibility and quality of health services, and researching for new insights and innovative solutions to health problems.

MIKE JAMES can be reached at mjames@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2652.