Chronic diseases are illnesses that last a long time, do not go away on their own, are rarely cured, and can result in disability later in life. Hundreds of years ago, communicable diseases were the major cause of illness, disability, and death. This was before there was a good understanding of hygiene, how bacteria and viruses work, and wide use of immunizations/vaccinations. In more current times, chronic diseases have become the most pressing concern. It is estimated that nearly 6 in 10 Americans live with at least one chronic disease. According to the most recent community health assessment (CHA), chronic disease are some of the top health conditions impacting adults in Fond du Lac County. For example, respondents reported having these health conditions over the past 3 years includes 29% high blood pressure, 22% mental health condition, 22% high cholesterol, 10% heart disease/condition, 9% diabetes, and 7% asthma. Many chronic conditions are caused by key risk behaviors, as well as genetics and family history. The good news is that chronic diseases are largely preventable through healthy eating, physical activity, limiting drinking, avoiding tobacco, early screenings, and getting enough sleep.
Following the community health assessment process (CHA), local health departments complete a community health improvement plan (CHIP) process. This includes creating a multi-year plan to address the most pressing health needs identified in the assessment. In Fond du Lac County, those health priorities include: mental health, substance use/abuse, and chronic disease prevention. Fond du Lac County Public Health organized three community events in October. At these events, community members and key stakeholders were invited to learn more about the CHA results, as well to provide input on how to address these issues moving forward. Amanda Miller was asked to be the featured guest speaker to present updated information on chronic disease in Fond du Lac County. This presentation laid the foundation to why this health area is a top priority over the next few years. The biggest areas identified during the event include: access to healthy foods/food security, physical activity, and access and education of chronic disease prevention tools, like screenings and other resources.
Miller provided technical support to the Fond du Lac County Public Health Department throughout the CHA and CHIP and is also a member of the Healthy Fond du Lac County Steering Committee and the Living Well FDL (chronic disease prevention coalition.) For more information about the CHA/CHIP, visit: https://www.fdlco.wi.gov/departments/departments-f-m/health-department/healthy-fond-du-lac-county-2020