BUNCOMBE COUNTY, NC – 2021 – The NC General Assembly requires that local public health departments conduct a community health assessment (CHA) every 3-4 years to identify the strengths, resources and needs of each region. The information is compiled into a written report that provides information about the community’s health and a plan for improvement. The report is used to develop a plan for action to address the priorities identified by the CHA.
A CHA, also referred to as a community health needs assessment (CHNA), identifies key health needs and issues through data collection and analysis through the systemic examination of the health status indicators for the population. Methods are through community engagement and collaborative participation. This leads to strategy development, planning and action to address health needs and issues.
The important features of the CHA are that it:
- Encourages multisector collaborations
- Includes assessment, development, implementation and evaluation
- Involves diverse community engagement
- Addresses disparities
- Uses evidence-based interventions
- Promotes transparency
- Uses high-quality data
A community health improvement plan (CHIP) is the long-term systemic effort to address the health problems identified in the community health assessment. The CHA is updated every 3-5 years. The plan is used by government agencies in collaboration with community partners to focus efforts and coordinate resources. It is aspirational and addresses the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the community so that its resources can be allocated to best meet the community’s needs.
The most recent Buncombe County Community Health Assessment was in 2021. Data was obtained through stakeholder meetings of the CHIP Advisory Council of 52 agencies, from the Western North Carolina Regional Community Health Assessment Survey and from community health data across different demographics.
After identifying the most significant community concerns, the Advisory Council prioritized areas of focus:
- Birth outcomes/ infant mortality
- Mental health & substance use
- Chronic health conditions: heart disease & diabetes
The CHA concluded that these health focus areas disproportionately impact marginalized groups. Racism, both systemic and structural, are root causes of health and life course disparities linked with the Social Determinants of Health (SDoH). The CDC defines the SDoH as conditions in the places where people live, learn, age, work and play that affect a wide range of health and quality-of-life-risks and outcomes. They drive 80% of health outcomes and highly correlate with race, age, gender, and income. The development, planning and action for each of the 3 health focus areas will be determined after meeting with focus groups in 2022.
Listen to the full report below:
Contact: Dr. Dick Needleman, Health reporter, 103.3 AshevilleFM, firstname.lastname@example.org