This initiative was part of a nationwide health promotion and disease prevention agenda for the first decade of the 21st century. That agenda was set forth in Healthy People 2010, a comprehensive document that established targets for improving the health of all people in the United States.
In its 1988 report, The Future of Public Health, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) identified assessment, policy development, and assurance as the core functions of public health agencies. It is in those three realms of endeavor that Virginia and all other states have acted to improve the health of their citizens.
To facilitate a systematic response to the IOM report, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services established targets for the nation in its document, Healthy People 2000. That publication compiled national health promotion and disease prevention objectives for the end of the twentieth century. Thousands of citizens and health professionals, more than 300 private organizations, and all state health departments spent three years developing a national consensus on health priorities.
In response to the national initiative, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) took the lead in identifying some of the key goals and objectives that need to be addressed in the Commonwealth. In December 1997 VDH published Healthy Virginia Communities, a report that showed how the State and its health districts ranked on the basis of the latest year for which data was available for some of the most critical indicators.
An update of the earlier report, Healthy Virginia Communities: Report #2, was published by VDH in August 2000. This document provides data over a more extended period for the selected objectives, in most cases showing how health districts have fared over four years, from 1995-1998.