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Healthy People 2020: Your input is needed!

Every 10 years, The US Government produces Healthy People, a statement of the Public Health Goals for the Nation. The Healty People document becomes very influential, and is considered by policy makers and funders. For the first time ever, there is a concerted effort to directly address Geriatric Issues in Healthy People. The Geriatrics and Palliative Care communities need to do all they can to assure that the final report of Healthy People 2020 fully bears the fruit of this effort.

A draft of Healthy People 2020is now available for public comment. Your comments can influence the final Healthy People 2020 statement of US Public Health Goals. It is important Geriatrics and Palliative Care providers help shape Healthy People 2020.

In the past, health goals for the elderly played a minimal role in Healthy People. For the first time, Healthy People 2020 includes a section devoted to health objectives for older adults. Amy Berman, Program Officer at the John A Hartford Foundation, and others on the Older Adults Workgroup within Healthy People 2020 helped lobby for more attention to the needs of older persons in Healthy People.

The draft is an important advance over previous versions of Healthy People. However, the document can go further in advancing the health of older adults. For example, there is no goal focused on caregiver depression. Also, there is not much focus on symptoms and disease related suffering. Therefore, the input of palliative care experts could be particularly helpful .

To comment, first go the HP2020 comments sectionand register. You can go to this pageto see the list of topic areas. Click hereto see older adult health objectives. You can then post comments on any goal, such as suggestions for more specificity, better measures, etc. You can also suggest additional objectives. You will be asked to describe the objective, give a rationale, and suggest a datasource that could be used to measure the objective. While in this post, I have focused on the older adult objectives, it may be useful to comment in other topic areas as well. For example, while the cancer topic area includes a new objective related to cancer survivorship, it has nothing on palliative care for cancer patients.

This may be an important opportunity for the Geriatrics and Palliative Care communities to influence an important public health initiative.

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