WASHINGTON, D.C. D.C.'s New Health Agenda Outlines Top Priorities For Citywide Wellness (DCist.com)

Over the past year, the D.C. Department of Health, local organizations, and residents have been collaborating on strategies to get the city in shape. Today, the health department announced that theDC Healthy People 2020 Framework is complete—and the plan goes a lot further than free access to fitness centers.

Taking the lead from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Healthy People 2020 plan, D.C.'s guide outlines 29 topic areas—13 of which are given a high priority.

Mental health is on the top of the list. Among other things, the plan has a goal of reducing the number of young people, aged 12 to 17, who experience major depressive episodes. The second priority is to reduce violence in the city with goals that include decreasing the homicide rate among 20 to 24-year-old residents. Rounding out the top three priorities is access to health services. To this end, the plan includes goals such as increasing the number of residents who receive preventive care.

The health department worked with 30 agencies and organizations as well as residents to determine the city's top health concerns. In the report, each priority includes ways that the local government, community groups, and individuals can work to address these issues based on methods that have worked in other places.

Last year, a report released by the Big Cities Health Coalition noted that D.C. tops the list of new HIV diagnoses among the cities surveyed, and it is second only to Baltimore in HIV-related deaths (though the rate has dropped by more than half since 2004). This issue is the ninth priority in the healthy people report, and includes efforts to reduce the number of new cases for people of all ages in the city.

The coalition's report also points out that although the District fared well in many of its 34 heath indicators, there are major disparities between black and white Washingtonians. The new framework "will also allow us, as a community, to streamline and improve community services to better reach disproportionately affected populations,” said Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, of the department of health, in a release.

In the future, residents will able to find the report's data on an interactive website.

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