Toward Healthy Aging 2010: Meeting the National Agenda

Article excerpt

When the Surgeon General of the United States and the Secretary of Health and Human Services released Healthy People 2010 almost three years ago, the detailed mandate for improving the nation's health declared that its central goals for Americans were to "increase quality and years of healthy life" and "eliminate health disparities." This threepart report is considered the "guiding instrument" for addressing health issues in the United States. The document builds on public health initiatives, one started in 1979 and two overviews published in 1980 and 1990 defining the country's health goals. Healthy People 2010 is a consensus document developed with a consortium of 350 national organizations and 250 state agencies that focus on public health, substance abuse, mental health and the environment. In addition, numerous individuals and organizations provided testimony about health priorities at five regional meetings.

The summary report, Healthy People 2010: Understanding and Improving Health, notes that "at least 18 countries with populations of 1 million or more have life expectancies greater than the United States for both men and women." Despite gains in American's health-- such as reduced mortality from coronary heart disease and stroke-since Healthy People 2000 was issued in 1990, the newer report states, "We still have a long way to go. …