Take a survey. Join a meeting. Better Michigan's public health

Whether it be a five-minute survey or a few-hour stakeholder meeting, taking part in an initiative years in the making could help Michigan’s public health for the next half-decade.

Partners across Michigan’s public health system are collaborating to identify and prioritize the state’s biggest public health issues through the State Health Assessment. They want to include residents - from a Dearborn resident sickened by air pollution to a northern Michigander stranded in a food desert - and entities involved in good public health - from clean water activists to fair wage fighters.

“We have real opportunities to yank out the root causes of poor health found in our communities by participating in this project,” said Tina Reynolds, Michigan Environmental Council’s environmental health program director. “The key is helping everyone realize what perpetuates poor health, then bringing their voices in.”

The Michigan Public Health Institute, contracted by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, is gathering perspectives on public health through two methods. 

Michigan residents can fill out a five-minute survey. It is anonymous and available in English, Spanish and Arabic. The survey closes June 30. 

Michigan organizations can become stakeholders that identify and prioritize public health issues, then set goals around them. To join, email Jennifer Schuette, MDHHS accreditation and performance improvement consultant, at [email protected] by late August.

Michigan organizations and Michigan residents alike can also share this survey and stakeholder opportunities with other people and groups.

Not sure what good public health is and what role you and your community play in it? Reynolds, who took part as a stakeholder in the months-long health assessment process, said public health is more than clinical care. She views public health in five sectors, as identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: education; economic stability; the neighborhood and built environment; social and community life; and health and health care. That could look like the following:

  • Healthy food access
  • Clean drinking water
  • Clean air
  • Economic mobility
  • Income and benefits
  • Educational opportunities
  • Fitness
  • Reliable electricity 
  • Heating and cooling
  • Reliable mobility for abled and disabled people
  • Safety from violence

At stakeholder meetings, Reynolds and her colleagues have identified and prioritized public health issues, with Reynolds offering an environmental perspective. By the plan’s Oct. 1 launch date, she and other stakeholders will have incorporated the public survey’s results and mapped out goals for the greater community to strive for. The last time such a plan was laid out was in 2011.

“One of the benefits of this process would be that we have some priority issues that we recognize throughout the state, so that the state health departments, local health departments and local groups can galvanize around these core issues,” Reynolds said. “You make a lot more progress if it’s a collective issue and it’s in a plan.”

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