Through a strategic planning initiative, the Arkansas Department of Health determined that to solve today’s health problems would require cooperative action and creative solutions at the local level. The health of the community is a shared responsibility of many entities. Hometown Health Improvement brings together a wide range of people and organizations including consumers, business leaders, health care providers, elected officials, religious leaders, and educators to identify community health problems and develop and implement ways to solve them.
Hometown Health Improvement is a locally owned and locally controlled initiative that stresses:
- coalition building,
- community health assessment,
- prioritization of health issues, and
- the development and implementation of community health strategies that are locally designed and sustained.
The Department of Health provides leadership to help communities meet their needs for improving the health of their hometown through the following functions:
- Data collection, interpretation, and use
- Coalition building
- Dissemination of information
Hometown Health Improvement initiatives currently exist in every county around the state. HHI coalitions do powerful and unique work to improve the health of those in their communities. Once the coalition is established, many communities are choosing to conduct health behavior surveys to gain important information specific to their communities. Many coalitions are now implementing activities to affect the health of the community. Examples of some activities include: tobacco cessation programs for adolescents, household hazardous waste round-up, parenting support groups, local industry wellness programs, health fairs, and health resource guides. Other benefits arising from this partnership include improving the health and quality of life in communities, reducing preventable illness and injury, coordinating community health services more effectively, and using available health care resources more efficiently. Community members are participating in training sessions on community assessment, coalition building, and creating partnerships that work. From sponsoring community health assessments to developing county specific intervention and prevention programs, community members in partnership with Department of Health Hometown Health Improvement continue to build healthier communities.