Secretary’s Advisory Committee and Healthy People Program

Introduction

Improving health and well-being on a national level requires a coordinated effort. Healthy People is a state-wide strategy for alleviating public health concerns in the United States. The program has many components and a number of stakeholders and participators. This paper will provide an overview of the Secretary’s Advisory Committee and its role in developing and achieving the program’s objectives. It will also discuss how the National Center for Health Statistics aids Healthy People.

Overview of the Committee

Healthy People 2030 is a complex set of objectives, which necessitates the presence of industry professionals when addressing these topics. Secretary’s Advisory Committee (SAC) is comprised of public health experts, and it is created to aid the Secretary of Health and Humans Services (SHHS) in devising appropriate strategies for approaching Healthy People 2030 goals. The primary responsibility of SAC is to produce recommendations on how to implement national health objectives (SHHS, 2018). SAC also helps the Secretary identify the most significant health issues and develop a prioritized list of goals. The committee neither engages in administrative duties, nor has the power to make ultimate decisions. It only provides advice based on available statistical data and previous experience. SAC has to meet twice a year, with at least two-thirds of the board present (SHHS, 2018). The government allocates the necessary financial resources to cover travel and accommodation costs for each member (SHHS, 2018). Meetings are generally public, which means that any person can attend and listen to the speakers (SHHS, 2018). However, the Secretary has the right to opt for a closed meeting.

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Information About Objectives

Healthy People 2030 addresses all areas of public health and consists of many specific objectives. More detailed information about this national strategy can be found on the official website, www.health.gov/healthypeople/objectives-and-data/browse-objectives. The page has links to various categories of goals grouped by public health topics, such as sexually transmitted infections and mental health and mental disorders. After choosing a particular type, one can view a detailed explanation of the concern, which objectives are aimed at addressing the issue, and what statistical data is used to make decisions.

Recommendations of the Committee

The outcomes of SAC meetings are reports and new recommendations regarding Healthy People 2030. For instance, the current committee board has given various advice on how to approach the decade-long initiative and how to choose leading health indicators. In previous decades, Healthy People consisted only of objectives that aimed to achieve future goals (Pronk & Ochiai, 2020). However, a recommendation was given to revise the structure of the program to include background, foundational principles, and future (SAC, 2016). The background provides information about past Healthy People programs in regard to a given health topic (SAC, 2016). The inclusion of such data would allow researchers and health professionals to conduct retrospective analyses about the progress in the context of a particular health indicator (SAC, 2016). In case no progress is observed, one may suggest that strategies regarding this health topic should be altered.

Unlike previous versions of Healthy People, 2030 has three types of objectives – core, developmental, and research. All goals that have baseline data fall under the core group. SAC (2017) recommends drawing leading health indicators from this objective category because there is enough historical evidence to set measurable goals and determine if these targets are met. Developmental and research objectives are public health concerns that do not have baseline data yet (SAC, 2017). In previous Healthy People versions, such objective categories were archived. However, SAC emphasizes the importance of working on these groups to gain a deeper understanding of public health issues and develop new intervention strategies.

Role of the National Center for Health Statistics

Statistical data is vital for research and the development of public health strategies. In the United States, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) has been collecting relevant information since 1960 and is considered to be the primary statistics agency (Rothwell, 2016). Healthy People has been reliant on data provided by NCHS. The agency is a statistical advisor to SHHS; it also devises methods for measuring the core goals of Healthy People. NCHS develops graphical presentations to inform about the progress of each objective, maintains an information database, and offers technical assistance to health monitoring efforts on a national scale (Rothwell, 2016). Data is focal in the context of Healthy People, and it takes substantial investments to implement accurate information collection mechanisms. Although Healthy People is a national strategy, data comes from local resources that are challenging to monitor (Rothwell, 2016). NCHS takes away this burden from Healthy People and ensures that valid and relevant information reaches the audience.

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Conclusion

It would have been impossible for the Secretary of Health and Human Services to make informed decisions regarding Healthy People 2030 objectives without the assistance of an advisory board. SAC is comprised of researchers and professionals in the field of public health that has the necessary qualifications to aid the national health efforts. A role of equal importance is played by NCHS, which provides statistical data required for the program.

References

Pronk, N. P., & Ochiai, E. (2020). Healthy People 2030: Considerations for workplace health and well-being. ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal, 24(5), 65-68.

Rothwell, C. J. (2016). Healthy People: Data requirements [PowerPoint slides]. Web.

Secretary’s Advisory Committee. (2016). Recommendations for an approach to Healthy People 2030 [PDF document]. Web.

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Secretary’s Advisory Committee. (2017). Recommendations for the Healthy People 2030 leading health indicators [PDF document]. Web.

Secretary of Health and Human Services. (2018). Secretary’s advisory committee on national health promotion and disease prevention objectives for 2030 [PDF document]. Web.

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