RD562 - 2017 Annual Report of the State Board of Health on the “Virginia Plan for Well-Being”

Executive Summary:

In 2016, the Virginia Board of Health adopted the Virginia Plan for Well-Being (“the Plan") as its annual report to the General Assembly. The Plan outlines a path forward toward improving the health and well-being of all Virginians. It focuses on four aims, and lays out 13 goals and 29 measures to track progress towards making Virginia the healthiest state in the nation. One year into the Plan, the Virginia Board of Health believes that there is still a long way to go to reach this goal.

At the state level, many of the measures being tracked improved this past year (see Attachment A). However, these upward trends are not necessarily statistically significant and, moreover, they mask a concerning underlying reality: there are huge disparities in health status across the Commonwealth depending on where one lives. In rural southwest and southside Virginia (as well as in other rural portions of the state) and in communities of racial and ethnic minorities, people get sick more often, have more severe morbidity in their diseases, become ill at a younger age, and die at a younger age than do other Virginians. If the Commonwealth did nothing other than eliminate the health inequities between urban and rural Virginia and between whites and racial and ethnic minorities, Virginia would be among the top 10 healthiest states in the nation. This fact underscores the importance of viewing population health efforts in the Commonwealth through a “health opportunity" lens.