The Arkansas Chronic Disease Forum 

In an effort to be more focused and intentional in delivering information to better help our community partners and prevent chronic disease in the state, the Chronic Disease Coordinating Council will not hold a Chronic Disease Forum Conference this Spring. We will instead intensely work with Chronic Disease Coalitions and other partners this year to better align and advance the objectives of the Million Hearts Campaign within the Chronic Disease Framework for Action.  The CDCC believes this direction will allow for consideration of lessons learned from previous Forums to better reach and serve chronic disease in Arkansas.  Here’s the link to the CDCC’s webpage and six core objectives for the next two year.

About the Forum

Mission:  To increase the quality and years of healthy life for all Arkansans, by reducing the burden of chronic disease through collaborative action and policy development aimed at education, prevention, treatment and advocacy.

The Forum grew out of the Arkansas Department of Health's goal of integrating chronic disease programs.  The process began in 2003 and included key stakeholders and partners from community organizations as well as staff from ADH programs.  This effort led to a daylong Chronic Disease Forum in 2005.  Work at the Forum resulted in a Chronic Disease State Plan entitled "Changing the Culture of Health in Arkansas: A Coordinated Approach to Health Promotion and Prevention of Chronic Diseases and Related Complications".  The Plan detailed goals, objectives and strategies that were common to all the programs represented at the Forum.

 In 2008 another Chronic Disease Forum was held to review and identify accomplishments since 2005 and plan future strategies.  Over 80 participants representing twenty two different organizations attended.  Participants at this Forum identified the top goals for revision of the chronic disease state plan and prioritized strategies for these goals. The goals were based on the CDC's Healthy People 2010 objectives.  Healthy People 2010 is a statement of national health objectives designed to identify the most significant preventable threats to health and to establish national goals to reduce these threats.

As a result of the work of the 2008 Chronic Disease Forum participants identified a number of goals:

  • Increase the proportion of Arkansans of all ages who have a healthy weight
  • Increase the percentage of Arkansans of all ages who engage in regular physical activity
  • Promote lifelong healthy eating habits for Arkansans of all ages
  • Prevent the initiation of tobacco use among youth
  • Promote tobacco cessation among Arkansans of all ages.
  • Improve access to screening and health care services for all chronic diseases in rural and underserved areas
  • Educate and inform the public on health issues related to prevention and control of chronic diseases
  • Develop and implement a legislative agenda to support the policy and fiscal needs of chronic disease activities
  • Support professional education activities that promote high quality health care
  • Support the development of communities that promote life-long physical activity, healthy nutrition and tobacco free environments
  • Support universal design of communities to accommodate people with disabilities

Since 2008 a coordinating group has been working to ensure that the goals are addressed and the strategies are implemented.  The group is planning additional regional and state forums. 

A focus of the 2010 forums was the unveiling Healthy People 2020 framework.  This will be used to plan strategies to reduce the incidence and impact of chronic diseases. The addition of a new partner, the Arkansas Chapter of the national organization, Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease will enhance the efforts of the Forum to achieve the goals.   An emphasis on public participation and community feedback adds an element of inclusiveness that will benefit planning and program implementation.

The Process
2003-4 Initial talks and planning
2005 First Chronic Disease Forum
First Chronic Disease State Plan - "Changing the Culture of Health in Arkansas"
2008 Second Forum Meeting
Prioritize Goals and Strategies
2011 5th Annual Chronic Disease Forum Conference
Healthy People 2020 Arkansas Framework for Action unveiled

Update and Revise State Plan
Develop Management, Accountability and Evaluation Plan
Strengthen Integration and Collaboration

Source:  "A Coalition of Coalitions: The Arkansas Chronic Disease Forum", Namvar Zohoori, MD, MPH, PhD, 2009.