Health Department Asks for Public Input on Health Priorities
Albany, April 18 -- What should New York State's public health priorities be in the next decade? The New York State Department of Health has launched an unprecedented effort to seek public opinion by going directly to the source -- the people whose health they protect.
In kicking off the extensive outreach effort, State Health Commissioner Barbara A. DeBuono, M.D., said, "We want to know what important health issues are facing your family, your friends and your community. What is the cause of these health problems and how can they be corrected?"
People will be able to provide input and obtain information through regular mail and the Internet's electronic mail, by calling a statewide, toll-free number, or by participating in regional roundtable workshop discussions.
The initiative is being conducted by the State Health Department in conjunction with the Public Health Council. A special Public Health Priorities Committee established by the Public Health Council will develop public health objectives for the next decade. The Committee is chaired by Dr. Mary Hibberd, Suffolk County Health Commissioner. "New Yorkers' input is very valuable. We're hoping to hear from everyone, from public health professionals, health care providers, academics, representatives of business and labor, clergy, and consumer groups, senior citizens, teenagers and college students, parents, and anyone else interested in health issues," said Public Health Priorities Chairperson Mary Hibberd.
"We also are looking for local, successful public health activities which will lead to the largest reduction in preventable death and disabilities and the greatest improvement in the quality of life for New Yorkers."
"Each health issue identified by the public will be considered by the panel," Dr. Hibberd promised. "New York has a diverse population spread out in urban areas, suburbs and rural communities. While each county has its unique concerns, there are shared health problems as well."
A Sampling of Department Data Reveals Statewide Health Issues, such as:
- Heart Disease. It's the leading cause of death in the State.
- Cancer. Lung cancer kills nearly 10,000 New Yorkers annually, and about 3,500 women die of breast cancer.
- Physical Fitness. Obesity among adults in New York increased from 19% in 1987 to 27% in 1994.
- HIV Infection. As of March 1, 1996, 97,850 AIDS cases were reported; New York accounts for nearly 20% of AIDS cases reported nationwide.
- Alcohol and Drugs. New York's age-adjusted, drug-related death rate is approximately 7 out of every 100,000, more than twice as high as the national goal.
- Adolescents and Tobacco. In 1994, 17% of adolescents were smoking daily.
- Lead Poisoning. In 1993, an estimated 28% of children, nine months to five years, were tested for lead poisoning.
"While health statistics can track and assess public health diseases and services, we'd like New Yorkers from different areas of the state to help identify and prioritize health issues most important to them and to their communities," Public Health Council Chairperson Louise Woerner said.
New Yorkers Can Provide Input in Many Ways. Six Roundtable Workshops are Scheduled During May in Various Regions in the State:
- May 1, Binghamton
- May 2, East Syracuse
- May 6, Batavia
- May 9, Albany
- May 14, Stony Brook
- May 17, Manhattan
Those wishing to attend need to pre-register by calling 1-800-458-1158. Those interested in submitting written comments may mail them to the New York State Health Department, Health Priorities, Box 2000, Albany, New York 12220. Comments may also be sent by electronic mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or to the Department's World Wide Web page at http://www.state.ny.us. New Yorkers may also call a statewide toll-free hotline to report their health concerns at 888-281-7806.
"This is an excellent opportunity for New Yorkers to actively take part and directly contribute to improving the quality of health for themselves, their loved ones and their community. The more ideas we garner, the better tailored and effective our health priorities plan can be," Dr. DeBuono stressed.
4/18/96-48 OPAContact: Claudia Hutton, Director, Public Affairs (518) 474-7354
New York State Department of Health Posted 5/14/96