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Saturday, May 25, 2024

DHS report finds social environments, community belonging influence Wisconsin health

The Department of Health Services’ new State Health Improvement Plan, released last Thursday, laid out priorities for Wisconsin public health.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services unveiled its 2023-27 State Health Improvement Plan last Thursday, a framework meant to guide Wisconsin health policy for the next five years.

The plan lists five priority areas for state public health officials to focus on: social conditions, physical, mental and systemic safety, person and community-centered healthcare, social connectedness and belonging and mental and emotional wellness.

State Health Officer and Division of Public Health Administrator Paula Tran said the report indicates DHS needs to examine health as a product of complex social factors rather than just individual behaviors.

“We think about structures that support institutional and systemic fairness, ensuring community residents have [an] equal opportunity to be involved in local decision-making and that resources are allocated,” Tran said at a press conference last Thursday.

The State Health Improvement Plan was informed by previous state research, including the 2020 State Health Assessment, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Population Health Institute’s Population Health and Equity Report Card and the Governor’s Health Equity Council.

“Our team works to build partnerships all across community-based organizations, as well as with local and tribal health departments and other institutions working to improve health of communities,” Tran said.

Other topics discussed during last Thursday’s press conference included COVID-19, mental health, health disinformation and questions about equity within health and community resources.

Going forward, the plan addressed three foundation shifts for healthcare within Wisconsin. These shifts challenge DHS to integrate institutional and systemic fairness, representation and access to decision making and community-centered resources and services into future public health policies.

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