First statewide post-pandemic health assessment is released

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), in collaboration with the Healthy Minnesota Partnership, has published the Minnesota Statewide Health Assessment. […]

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The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), in collaboration with the Healthy Minnesota Partnership, has published the Minnesota Statewide Health Assessment. The assessment report provides a snapshot of health in Minnesota.   It focuses on how different factors impact health, including the environment, education, housing, transportation, social circles and more. It compiles and uses data and information from more than 400 data sources and scientific literature. 

The assessment shows that Minnesota’s health is positively impacted by things like access to nature, good health care facilities and strong civic participation. But even within these areas inequities persist. Not every community has the same opportunities to be healthy.   The assessment is also one of the first statewide health assessments in the nation that was completed after the COVID-19 pandemic. While COVID-19 is not the main focus, the assessment does include some data about COVID-19. It acknowledges that COVID-19 had a significant impact on health. 

It notes that COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in Minnesota in both 2020 and 2021. In 2020, it accounted for 10 percent of all deaths, behind heart disease (16 percent) and cancer (19 percent).   Before vaccines and treatments were developed, during the fall surge in 2020, a smaller number of infections caused a much higher rate of hospitalization and death in Minnesota, according to the assessment. As vaccines and treatments became widely available, hospitalization and death rates declined sharply during the surge in cases between fall 2021 and early spring 2022, highlighting the value of vaccination and treatments in preventing severe illness. One of the outcomes of the pandemic was that people ages 65 and older who were vaccinated were much less likely to be hospitalized or die compared to people who were not vaccinated. The risk of hospitalization and death was reduced even more for people ages 65 and older who stayed up to date on their vaccines by receiving the regularly recommended doses. 

“The pandemic shed light on underlying issues that we’ve known about for a long time including the need to effectively communicate the importance of actions like vaccination, finding ways to collect better and more timely data, and continuing to address health and racial inequities,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Brooke Cunningham.   “Minnesota is a place that values health, opportunity, belonging and nature, and this statewide health assessment shows that,” said Cunningham. “But we know it’s not just the presence or absence of disease or injury that defines health.

The places we live and the environment around us play a role as well, and we can see in the data that it’s easier for some groups and communities to be healthier than others.” 
The Healthy Minnesota Partnership, a collaboration of MDH and community partners, will use the assessment, done every five years, to create a statewide health improvement framework, set priorities and make recommendations.   “This assessment helps update the roadmap we’re using to inform our work and address these disparities in data and community-driven ways,” said Cunningham. “Working together, change is possible. We have a lot of great momentum coming out of a historic legislative session in 2023 and a shared goal with the rest of the Walz-Flanagan administration to make Minnesota the best state for children and families.” 

As part of the assessment, the Healthy Minnesota Partnership also surveyed Minnesotans to learn about state strengths that support health. Other assessment activities included a community engagement inventory, group conversations and public comment.   “Everyone in Minnesota can use the assessment to support their communities’ health improvement efforts through planning, organizing, working on statewide actions and more,” said Sarah Grosshuesch, co-chair of the Healthy Minnesota Partnership and public health director at Wright County.   She also added that the assessment is meant to inspire action across different sectors, agencies and community organizations. The assessment calls for a health-in-all-policies approach and includes policy profiles about paid family and medical leave, tree canopy cover and broadband Internet access.    The Healthy Minnesota Partnership is expected to release its framework for action and recommendations based on the assessment in late 2024. 

To read the full assessment, go to Healthy Minnesota Partnership

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