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The Long View on Improving Pennsylvania’s Health

State improvement plan prioritizes a healthy Pennsylvania

April 05, 2023

The five-year plan to improve Pennsylvania’s health focuses on health equity, preventing chronic disease, and whole person care.

Released this week, the State Health Improvement Plan (SHIP) serves as a call to action for policymakers, providers, and all Pennsylvanians to strive for health improvements throughout the commonwealth.

The strategic plan for the state’s health and was developed by a coalition of health care professionals, associations, and organizations—known as the Healthy Pennsylvania Partnership— with support from Harrisburg University. HAP was among the contributors to the five-year plan that sets targets through 2028.

“The COVID-19 pandemic exposed long-existing health disparities in many health metrics. To be most impactful, the SHIP focuses on eliminating health disparities, especially in underserved communities and those hardest hit by the pandemic,” said Dr. Debra Bogen, acting health secretary.

The report noted the following health challenges in Pennsylvania:

  • Life expectancy:  The state’s average life expectancy at birth declined from 78.1 during 2018 to 76.8 during 2020.
  • Disparities:  The age-adjusted death rate during 2019 per 100,000 was 24.4 percent higher for Black Pennsylvanians than for white residents.
  • Overdoses:  The state’s age-adjusted drug overdose rate (42.4 per 100,000) was significantly higher than the national rate (28.3 per 100,000).
  • Mental health:  A third of high school students felt sad or hopeless every day for two or more weeks. Rates were higher (62%) for people who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual.

“Addressing discrimination and racism directly will be needed to reduce such disparities,” the report notes.

The report includes nine overarching goals to improve the health of the state, including a focus on social determinants of health, community safety, mental and environmental health, obesity, and chronic disease management. The full report is available to review online.

For more information, contact Robert Shipp III, PhD, BSN, RN, NEA-BC, vice president, population health and clinical affairs.