In awareness of National Public Health Week, The Strafford County Public Health Network is announcing that Strafford County is showing progress in the social and economic conditions of the County— one of several key indicators used to measure overall public health.

The County Health Rankings are released annually by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI) and compare various health measurements of county’s throughout the state, which enable public health leaders to understand the differences that exist in health throughout the state. The Strafford County public health region ranks as one of the worst counties in the state for health outcomes, health factors, and health behaviors. Strafford County ranked 8 out of the 10 counties for health outcomes and health factors, and 9 out of 10 for health behaviors, which looks at the behaviors that affect health such as smoking and obesity. These rankings did not change from last year, but we did see improvement in Strafford County’s social and economic factors ranking, which is ranked 4 out of 10, whereas in the last two years, Strafford County ranked 7 out of 10. Higher levels of high school graduation, higher percentage of the population receiving some college education, and lower unemployment explain this change.

Despite the many advances in health, the United States is ranked among the lowest in health of developed countries. Public health leaders across the nation are striving to change this by making the United States the healthiest nation by 2030. To do this, they are turning to data such as the County Health Rankings that examine 30 health factors that influence health to determine areas that need improvement. According to the recent County Health Rankings 2016 release, Strafford County still has a long way to go when it comes to health outcomes and behaviors, but some areas are seeing improvement such as social and economic factors which we know have a direct impact on health.

Strafford County has a Public Health Advisory Council (PHAC), whose purpose is to develop and implement a range of public health improvement activities to address the many factors that influence health as identified in the County Health Rankings. Strafford County’s PHAC is funded by the Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) Bureau of Public Health and is made up of community leaders, local health and public health entities, concerned citizens, and experts. The PHAC determined Strafford County’s five top health priorities as identified in the recently released Community Health Improvement Plan as: Substance Misuse: Prevention, Treatment and Recovery; Mental Health; Obesity and Nutrition; Emergency Preparedness; and Heart Disease and Stroke.

The Strafford County Public Health Network facilitates multiple workgroups, and the PHAC which are open to the public to address Strafford County’s top health concerns:

  • Substance Misuse: There has been a lot of work around addressing substance misuse in Strafford County such as rolling out Naloxone (narcan) kits to the public, training recovery coaches, and developing a recovery community center. The following workgroups are working towards these causes: an Opioid Taskforce that meets monthly, a Prevention, Treatment and Recovery Roundtable that meets quarterly, a Harm Reduction Coalition, and a Recovery Community Center (SOS) workgroup. For more information on substance misuse work in Strafford County please visit: org
  • Obesity/Nutrition and Heart Disease/Stroke: Recently formed a work group that meets monthly at Goodwin community Health with a goal of increasing healthy food access and free/low cost physical activity opportunities throughout Strafford County. For more information please visit org
  • Emergency Preparedness: New members are welcome to join the Emergency Preparedness Taskforce which meets monthly to plan for emergencies. For more information please visit org

The rankings, available at www.countyhealthrankings.org, include a snapshot of each county in New Hampshire with a color-coded map comparing each county’s overall health ranking.

About The Strafford County Public Health Network

The Strafford County Public Health Network exists to improve the health, wellness, and quality of life for all individuals in Strafford County.  It is one of 13 networks across the State of New Hampshire that work together to align multiple public health priorities into one integrated system. The Strafford County Public Health Network is representative of Dover, Rochester, Durham, Somersworth, Barrington, Farmington, Milton, Lee, Strafford, New Durham, Rollinsford, Middleton, Madbury, and the University of New Hampshire. The Strafford County Public Health Network is located at Goodwin Community Health and online at scph.org. To join the PHAC, and for more information about the Strafford County Public Health Network, including a list of contacts, please visit scphn.org

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