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Health Department releases first part of health plan

AUSTIN (AP) – The leading causes of death in the United States – coronary heart disease, cancer and stroke – are also the leaders in Texas, according to the first of three state reports that will form a plan for improving Texans’ health.

“The Health of Texans: Texas State Strategic Health Plan, Part I,” is a 190-page summary of state health issues by the Texas Department of Health.
The plan made public last Tuesday includes such topics as behavioral health risks, chronic and infectious diseases, maternal and child health, injuries, dental and environmental health.

Later this summer, the “Public Health Improvement Plan: Texas State Strategic Health Plan, Part II” will be released. It will address the need for a coordinated public health system.

This fall, Texas Health Commissioner Dr. Eduardo Sanchez will convene a broad-based public health steering committee to establish state health improvement goals.

Those goals will be published in “The Texas Declaration for Health: Texas State Strategic Health Plan, Part III” around the end of the year.
“Together these reports will build a comprehensive strategic plan including the vision of state and local organizations and individuals,” Sanchez said.
“Without such strategic planning, we cannot make measurable improvements in the public’s health in this century.”

Gyl Kovalik, project director in office of health, information and analysis at the health department, gathered the data and wrote the report. She said the steering committee will develop measurable goals that will be tracked from 2003 though 2010.
“Hopefully we’ll have some things to be celebrated,” she said.

Texans are doing better than the national average in avoiding some health risks, and for other risk behaviors, the state is lagging behind the national average.

The report shows:

-In Texas, 22.1 percent of adult Texans were smokers in 2000 compared to 23.2 percent of American adults.

-In 2001, 14 percent of Texas high school students were overweight or obese compared with 10.5 percent in the United States.

-A 7 percent increase in reported AIDS cases from 2000 to 2001 in Texas – 2,790 to 2,981 – marks the first increase in AIDS numbers in five years. In the United States, AIDS numbers have been on the decline in recent years.

-Texas ranks last among all states for the series of vaccines that includes pertussis for children 19-35 months old, which only 69.5 percent of children immunized. Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious upper respiratory disease.