The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing.” Health starts in our homes, neighborhoods, schools and workplaces. It is determined, in part, by where we live and our access to resources and opportunities.
One of New Hanover County’s strategic priorities is superior public health, and we are focused on reducing health risks and diseases in our county. While quality health care is essential to our heath, research has shown that social, economic and environmental factors influence health on a much greater level.
According to Steven A. Schroeder in the New England Journal of Medicine’s “We Can Do Better – Improving the Health of the American People,” behavioral patterns account for nearly 40 percent of premature deaths in the United States. Genetic predisposition accounts for 30 percent, and social and environmental conditions, for 20 percent. Health care accounts for 10 percent.
So, a person’s zip code can have a much bigger impact on his or her health, even more than genetic code. And that means we have a great opportunity and a vital responsibility to improve our community’s health.
New Hanover County recently sat down with community leaders to begin a conversation about the most pressing health issues in our county and how we can work together to create effective solutions that address those problems.
Those partners are joining New Hanover County on Monday, March 27 for a health forum called “The Health of Our Community: Current Statistics and Future Priorities.” This event is aimed at business leaders, public officials, faith leaders, area nonprofits, healthcare providers and other thought leaders who value health to discuss how the social determinates of health affect our community and why we should care.
New Hanover County Health Director Phillip Tarte will open the event with the current health profile of our county. He will present data, share what we have learned and discuss the biggest health issues facing our community. Dr. Ronny Bell, professor and Chair of the Department of Public Health at East Carolina University, will discuss how the social determinates of health impact health equity in our region.
A panel, moderated by Dr. Charles Hardy, founding Dean of UNCW’s College of Health and Human Services, will discuss why the overall public’s health matters to our community.
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