Access to quality health care, health promotion and disease prevention are priority concerns for the Prince George’s County Council, in its role as the Board of Health, and for county residents.

The Board of Health recognizes the importance of effectively addressing the health and human services needs of residents in every aspect of life in the County.  But first, there needs to be an updated, clear picture of just how healthy County residents are; what challenges impact our ability to become healthier; and how we can build a more supportive social safety net.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decision-making through research and analysis. RAND completed an outstanding health needs assessment for Prince George’s County in 2009, focusing mostly on health and healthcare-related issues.

The Board of Health is again partnering with RAND to conduct a new and expanded assessment to capture the full extent of human services that influence health outcomes. This new assessment reflects the Health-in-All-Policies approach embraced by the Board of Health, examining more closely what effect such factors as education, the economy, transportation, environment, social service delivery and even chronic stress have on the health and wellbeing of County residents and communities.

As the Council considers future policies, plans, funding, and resources to improve health outcomes and strengthen communities with improved social service delivery,  it will need a fuller understanding of the current and future health and human service needs among residents, the level of unmet need, the effectiveness of current services provided, and the roles of government agencies, non-profit organizations and other service providers in making necessary improvements.

A major focus of the new study includes reaching out to County residents to participate in the June 11th countywide Town Hall Meeting, as well as to encourage your participation in focus groups planned for communities in the northern, central and southern portions of the County.

This is important work that we must all do together.  The Board of Health’s Health-in-All-Policies approach is a comprehensive strategy that requires significant input from County residents and stakeholders.  Your voice is critical to efforts to Building a Healthier Prince George’s County Together.

Your input and participation will help the Board of Health to identify our community’s health needs, discuss the best way to meet those needs, and enhance our Quality of Life.

Please attend the Town Hall Meeting on June 11th, to take part in shaping policies that help Prince Georgians to live better and longer.

Terrence M. Fullum, MD, MBA, of Glenn Dale, is a Howard University College of Medicine Professor of Surgery; Vice-Chair of the Department of Surgery; and Chief of the General Surgery, and Minimally Invasive and Bariatric Surgery divisions at Howard University Hospital.  A physician, surgeon and hospital executive, Dr. Fullum serves as the Prince George’s County Board of Health Consultant and Liaison.

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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