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New oral health objectives added to national 10-year plan for improving health of Americans

August 24, 2020 1560

Quick Summary:

Reducing the proportion of children with lifetime, active and untreated tooth decay and increasing the proportion of children with preventive dental visits are among Healthy People 2030's 14 oral health objectives. Federal, state and local government agencies will monitor and attempt to improve upon these targeted objectives through 2030.

Healthy People 2030, a 10-year national plan to promote and improve public health and prevent disease, launched Aug. 18 via webcast with experts from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention speaking on health equity, well-being and business partnerships. 

Now in its fifth iteration, Healthy People, an initiative of HHS, provides science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans. HHS and other federal, state and local government agencies will monitor and attempt to improve upon Healthy People’s updated targeted objectives through the year 2030. HHS calls the objectives “a basis for comparison and a focus for all health agencies at all levels of government.”

Part of that effort includes implementing a more holistic approach to improving health outcomes by addressing various social determinants, including education and access to health care. 

In his speech, Adm. Brett Giroir, MD, assistant secretary at the HHS, spoke about the need to add “well-being” as a new focus for Healthy People, noting that “health is not just the absence of disease but the daily lives people live.” He cited education as one of the social determinants of health and well-being when viewed through a holistic lens.

14 oral health care objectives

A total of 355 measurable objectives make up Healthy People 2030. Among them are 14 oral health care-specific objectives, including goals to:

  • Reduce the proportion of children with lifetime, active and untreated tooth decay
  • Increase the proportion of children with sealants and preventive dental visits
  • Increase the proportion of people with dental insurance and access to dental care
  • Increase the proportion of people with fluoridated water
  • Reduce the consumption of added sugars

An additional objective, to increase the number of states that have an oral health surveillance system, may be added at a later date if HHS is able to obtain baseline data.

Also new for the next decade are measurable objectives related to opioid-use disorder and e-cigarette use as well as resources for adapting Healthy People 2030 to COVID-19 and other public health threats.  

"Now more than ever, we need programs like Healthy People that set a shared vision for a healthier nation, where all people can achieve their full potential for health and well-being across the lifespan," said Dr. Giroir in a news release.

Fewer objectives allow for prioritization

A comparison with Healthy People 2020, the previous initiative, reveals that notable objectives, including oral health objectives, were removed or revised for 2030.  

Alex Azar II, HHS secretary, spoke about the initiative’s first four decades and the aim to reduce the previous 1,200-plus initiatives in Healthy People 2020 to just 355 prioritized objectives that can be used as targets for federal grants and public health programs. 

Also speaking were the U.S. Surgeon General Vice Admiral Jerome Adams, MD, MPH, and Brian Moyer, PhD, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. 

Dr. Adams’ speech discussed the importance of business partnerships, including nonprofits, at all levels of government for their ability to provide societies with opportunity, wealth and health care access and how those partnerships are central to Healthy People 2030. Moyer spoke about the use of new and publicly available data to measure Healthy People 2030 objectives, indicating that the Healthy People 2030 database will be available within a couple of months.

Learn more at the Healthy People website, which includes a tools for action page with recommendations for using Healthy People 2030 in the workplace. 

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