The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and United Health Foundation announced that the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is the 2013 winner of the inaugural America’s Health Rankings® Champion Award.
The award recognizes a state or territorial health department that uses data from the rankings to improve its state’s health outcomes, including addressing health disparities, and to build relationships with local health departments and other partners.
United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings® is the longest-running report of its kind. For 23 years, the Rankings has provided an analysis of national health on a state-by-state basis by evaluating a comprehensive set of health, environmental and socioeconomic data to determine national health benchmarks and state rankings. This process reveals improvements and deterioration in important health indicators.
One of the initiatives to which MDH has applied the America’s Health Rankings indicators is the Minnesota Statewide Health Improvement Program, which targets the leading causes of chronic disease: tobacco use and obesity. Since the program’s launch in 2009, nearly 300 cities have worked to improve walkability and bikeability by adding trails and sidewalks; 580 child-care businesses have enhanced their nutrition education programs for more than 10,000 children; and farm-to-school efforts connecting local farmers and schools have expanded to include 440 schools serving 235,000 students.“We are honored to be the first state to win the America’s Health Rankings Champion Award,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Edward Ehlinger, M.D., MSPH. “The Minnesota Department of Health uses the Rankings to inform and motivate our department programs and community partners in a shared effort to make Minnesota the healthiest state possible.” Minnesota leaders have rallied around America’s Health Rankings as an important source of health data and as a call to action. Gov. Mark Dayton uses the ranking indicators to evaluate his administration’s effectiveness, and Ehlinger frequently cites America’s Health Rankings in his work, examining it to determine Minnesota’s health strengths and areas for improvement. MDH also uses the ranking indicators to monitor progress on the Healthy Minnesota 2020 Statewide Health Improvement Framework.