As the national nonprofit organization that represents local public health departments, the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) plays an important role in improving health and advancing health equity nationwide. And by teaming up with Healthy People 2030, NACCHO is demonstrating just how important local health departments are to achieving national health objectives.
“Our mission is to improve the health of communities by strengthening and advocating for local health departments,” says Peter Holtgrave, NACCHO’s Senior Director of Public Health Infrastructure and Systems. “We can best meet that mission if we have clear, shared metrics and objectives that we can all work toward. That’s what Healthy People provides.”
Connecting Members to Healthy People
NACCHO represents about 3,000 local health departments nationwide, providing funding, training, and resources to build their capacity. When it comes to Healthy People, this means providing tools and resources to help health departments use Healthy People in their work.
“At NACCHO, we go beyond just making our members aware of Healthy People,” Holtgrave says. “It’s more important to connect them to tools and resources so they can use Healthy People to advance their own missions — and ultimately contribute to progress at the national level.”
For example, NACCHO offers webinars, presentations, reports, and other resources to help health departments and their community partners use Healthy People in community health assessment and planning activities. NACCHO’s website also features stories that highlight how members used Healthy People 2020.
In addition, NACCHO recently created a resource about Healthy People 2030 that explains what’s new in this iteration of the initiative and provides links to Healthy People 2030 features, like the Custom List tool and evidence-based resources.
Prioritizing Social Determinants of Health
One of NACCHO’s priorities is to help health departments address social determinants of health at a community level to reduce health disparities. This aligns with Healthy People 2030’s increased focus on social determinants of health, which is reflected in the Healthy People framework and across a variety of objectives.
To help local health departments address social determinants of health, NACCHO developed a community health improvement matrix. Health departments and their partners, including hospitals, use the matrix to map their public health interventions and to identify gaps and opportunities to advance their work. The matrix also provides a framework for them to consider which activities are most effective at addressing social determinants of health.
“The matrix helps communities identify their gaps in addressing social determinants of health,” Holtgrave says. “When we train them on how to use the matrix, we show them how they can use Healthy People to inform their efforts to fill in those gaps — including by transitioning from individual to more community-level interventions with their community partners.”
Continuing the Partnership
During the development of Healthy People 2030, NACCHO partnered with ODPHP to hold listening sessions with NACCHO members. The sessions gave members an opportunity to share how they were using Healthy People 2020 — and to weigh in on potential changes for the next iteration of the initiative.
Holtgrave says he looks forward to this type of collaboration with ODPHP continuing throughout the new decade. He notes that as the decade advances, NACCHO will develop new tools and resources to help local health departments use Healthy People.
“ODPHP has been an outstanding partner for us,” Holtgrave says. “We’re excited to continue the partnership so that together, we can improve the health of communities and advance health equity nationwide.”