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NYC Unveils Citywide Health Goals

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley today unveiled New York City’s ambitious new health policy – Take Care New York 2012 – outlining the City’s plan to improve the health of New Yorkers by targeting 10 leading causes of preventable sickness and death, including lung cancer, heart disease and HIV. Take Care New York 2012 follows the success of Take Care New York, and is part of the City’s overall strategic health agenda, which was launched in 2004.

Take Care New York identified 10 steps New Yorkers could take to live longer and healthier lives, and set citywide goals for 2008. Through the efforts of more than 400 City and community partners, Take Care New York helped to increase the number of New Yorkers with a regular primary care provider, decrease smoking rates across the city, increase the proportion of adults over age 50 getting checked for colorectal cancer, and decrease intimate-partner homicide. The Mayor and Dr. Farley were joined at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center by Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda I. Gibbs, Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Rafael E. Cestero, as well as Citizens’ Committee for Children Executive Director Jennifer March-Joly.

“The entire nation is focused on the health care debate in Washington right now, and one positive thing to come out of it so far is the attention it’s brought to prevention and the importance of high-quality primary care,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Those are exactly the areas that we have been focusing on in New York City, and the single best measure of our overall success is that between 2001 and 2006 life expectancy for New Yorkers increased by 50 percent more than it did in the U.S. as a whole. We’ve made some impressive progress over the past four years, but there’s a lot more to do, so we’re setting even more ambitious goals for the next four years.”

“Much progress has been made since Take Care New York began in 2004,” said Health Commissioner Farley. “Today we know more about the behaviors and conditions that affect public health and how different interventions can improve outcomes, and decrease illness. While New Yorkers are healthier today than they were in 2004, challenges remain. Injuries, illnesses and deaths from preventable causes persist, and some New York City neighborhoods have higher rates of sickness than others. Working together on the plans set out by Take Care New York 2012, we can make New York City an even better place to live.”

“The Bloomberg administration is a leader when it comes to creative collaboration and prevention as tools to address some of our City’s most intractable challenges like poverty, homelessness and public health disparities,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda I. Gibbs. “We are thankful to the many partners who are helping us to create a healthier New York City for all.”

Take Care New York 2012 differs from its predecessor because not only does it include what can be done by individuals, but it also provides ways in which community organizations, businesses, health care providers and government agencies can improve the city’s health. The 2012 policy also adds a new focus on children, acknowledging their unique health needs as well as the opportunity to promote life-long healthy behaviors. It emphasizes closing the health gap among New Yorkers of different races, ethnicities and income levels, and it addresses neighborhood conditions such as safe housing and access to nutritious, affordable foods.

The new policy uses a three-pronged approach that includes: 1) developing laws and regulations to improve environmental, economic and social conditions that affect health (2) emphasizing high-quality preventive health care with expanded access and (3) raising New Yorkers’ awareness of the best ways to improve their own health and the wellness of their communities. Here are the new plan’s 10 priorities for the city: (1) Promote quality health care for all; (2) Be tobacco free; (3) Promote physical activity and healthy eating; (4) Be heart healthy; (5) Stop the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections; (6) Recognize and treat depression; (7) Reduce risky alcohol use and drug dependence; (8) Prevent and detect cancer; (9) Raise healthy children; and (10) Make all neighborhoods healthy places. The full action plan is available online at www.nyc.gov/health/tcny.

Commissioners Sadik-Khan and Cestero both emphasized new opportunities for collaboration to improve neighborhood conditions that contribute to disease and sickness. Dr. March-Joly talked about the importance of a community-wide approach to ensuring that the city’s children live free of preventable illnesses such as obesity and Type 2 diabetes – diseases once thought to be restricted to adults.

“New York City is a walking town, and we’re designing our streets to make walking as safe and enjoyable as possible for all New Yorkers,” said Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. “You don’t need a gym membership to get the exercise you need. These days, we’re biking here too, with 200 new bike-lane miles to ride on. Here in New York, it’s easy to build fitness into your daily routine, and through Take Care New York 2012, we’re going to make it even easier.”

“Healthy lifestyles start in stable neighborhoods,” said HPD Commissioner Rafael E. Cestero. “Take Care New York 2012 offers a unique and comprehensive plan that will build on our successes in improving the living environments of hardworking New Yorkers, regardless of income, throughout the city. By investing in neighborhoods and creating high quality, affordable homes, we are doing more than providing a place to live – we are helping to create a safe environment where these initiatives have the opportunity to succeed.”

“New York City is becoming a better and healthier place to raise children, thanks in large part to the efforts of Mayor Bloomberg, the City’s Health Department, and the partnering City agencies and organizations gathered here today,” said Citizens’ Committee for Children Executive Director Jennifer March-Joly. “We are very pleased that Take Care New York 2012 includes a strong focus on children and youth – as they are the future of our city.”

To help achieve the new goals, the Health Department is working collaboratively with City agencies on key action steps. For example, to help promote physical activity across the city, the Health Department is working with the New York City Departments of Design and Construction, Transportation and City Planning on improving pedestrian and bicycle safety, creating more green and active recreation spaces, and developing street designs and public buildings that are better adapted to walking, bicycling and everyday stair use.

To help make all neighborhoods healthy places to live, the Health Department is working with the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development to enforce regulations designed to prevent home hazards such as rodents and other pests, improperly installed window guards, lead paint, and missing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

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Below are some of the specific actions the Health Department is pursuing to achieve the plan’s goals:

To promote quality health care for all, the Health Department is increasing the use of electronic health records to advance the quality of clinical services.

To stop the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, the Health Department is improving access to HIV testing and condoms, and working to promote safer sexual behavior.

To reduce risky alcohol use and dependence, the Health Department is advocating for policies that reduce underage drinking and heavy drinking among youths and adults.

To improve heart health, the Health Department is collaborating with food industry leaders on a voluntary plan to reduce salt in processed foods.

To make New York City tobacco free, the Health Department is working to reduce the availability and social acceptance of tobacco and limit exposure to second-hand smoke. The Department is also expanding access to, and use of, smoking cessation services.

To measure the effectiveness of these action steps, the Health Department will monitor a set of indicators within each of the plan’s 10 priority areas. These include:

Reduce – by 17 percent – the rate at which New Yorkers are hospitalized for preventable causes.
Cut the smoking rate among New York City adults by 29 percent.

Lower the proportion of New York City adults who drink one or more sugar-sweetened beverages each day by 20 percent.

Reduce premature deaths from major cardiovascular disease by 20 percent.

Increase – by 17 percent – the proportion of men who have sex with men (MSM) who report using a condom whenever they have anal sex.

Reduce – by 5 percent – the proportion of psychologically distressed adults who do not receive treatment.

Reduce – by 19 percent – the rate at which New Yorkers are hospitalized for problems attributable to alcohol.
Increase – by 30 percent – the proportion of New Yorkers 50 and older who have had a colonoscopy in the past 10 years.

Reduce the city’s teenage pregnancy rate by 16 percent.

Reduce, by 13 percent, the gap in housing quality between low-income and high-income neighborhoods.