Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Idaho Ranked 8th in Overall Health and Wellness

Most Americans associate Idaho with potatoes, but what many people don’t know is Idaho actually ranks 8th in overall health and wellness according to the United Health Foundation. Idaho boasts a low rate of infectious disease, a low rate of preventable hospitalizations, low levels of air pollution and a low percentage of children in poverty. Unfortunately, many Idahoans have limited access to primary care and low immunization coverage.

In general, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare presents an extremely thorough website promoting healthy lifestyles. The government-sponsored programs include services targeted towards
  • Community health
  • Family health
  • Diseases and Conditions
  • Health Assistance
  • Prevention

One example of a federally funded program is the Idaho Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program (HDSP) which helps Idahoans take steps to avoid heart disease and stroke by adopting a healthy lifestyle. This program touts regular exercise and eating healthfully as the secret behind stroke prevention and longevity.

Each year, more than 1,500 Idahoans die from smoking-related diseases. That’s an average of four people a day. Idaho’s Tobacco Prevention and Control Program (also known as Project Filter) provides funding to health districts and organizations around the state to create programs that prevent tobacco use. Project Filter particularly targets those Idahoans with higher rates of smoking such as 18-24 year-olds, Native Americans, Latinos, homosexuals, and industry and labor workers.

The Idaho Rural Health Association (IRHA) provides state-wide leadership and education on issues related to rural health in Idaho. The mission of the Idaho State Office of Rural Health and Primary Care is to promote access to quality health care for people in Idaho. IRHA meetings focus on personal heath concerns such as substance abuse and smoking cessation as well as the broader topic of health care reform.

Overall, Idaho seems to be doing a commendable job of making wellness programs available to its occupants. Although Idahoans suffer from many of the same health issues prevalent throughout the U.S. (heart disease, stroke, and cancer) they benefit from dozens of state-funded programs related to disease prevention and wellness.

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