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The Alabama Department of Public Health announces that the draft of the 2020 Alabama State Health Assessment is now available online for the public’s review and comments. The document provides helpful information that can be used for local community health improvement initiatives. This colorful 180-page document includes a wealth of statistics and other information about the health concerns Alabama residents face.

The purpose of the State Health Assessment is to learn more about the community: the health of the population, contributing factors to higher health risks or poorer health outcomes of identified populations, and community resources available to improve health status. This will serve as the foundation for a statewide health improvement plan that will identify community assets and resources that can be mobilized to improve overall population health.

A workgroup was established in 2018 to begin identifying the top health issues throughout the state. Input was obtained from diverse agencies, organizations, community groups, health care providers, and citizens across Alabama to determine appropriate and relevant health issues to be included in this assessment. A survey was conducted, and 14 health issues were determined as high priority.

The top 14 health indicators were ranked in the following order: (1) Mental Health and Substance Abuse; (2) Access to Care; (3) Pregnancy Outcomes; (4) Nutrition and Physical Activity; (5) Social Determinants of Health; (6) Sexually Transmitted Infections; (7) Geriatrics;  (8) Cardiovascular Diseases; (9) Child Abuse/Neglect; (10) Environmental Health; (11) Violence; (12) Cancer; (13) Diabetes; and (14) Tobacco Use and Vaping.

Several data sources were identified in order to demonstrate the health status of Alabama residents within each of the top 14 health indicators. Those include behavioral risk factors, birth and death data, and medical billing claims. Tables and statewide maps detail specific health equity concerns such as areas identified as food insecure, socially vulnerability, or possessing higher rates of poor health outcomes.

The public is invited to view the document online and submit comments before the State Health Assessment is finalized. The draft State Health Assessment is available online at https://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/accreditation/sha.html. Please email comments to Carlene.Robinson@adph.state.al.us. The deadline of public comment is February 9, 2022.