To assess the health problems of children in Washington Parish (approximately N = 7000 at elementary school age) and develop programs that can improve the health of children in a Parish-wide area as a Model for other parishes in Louisiana, and counties elsewhere.
1. To develop programs to improve children’s health throughout Washington Parish
2. Internalize programs to be ongoing and sustainable throughout the Parish
3. To provide a model that can be adapted by other Parishes
Medical and Social Issues to be Addressed:
· Control and prevention of obesity
· Improve asthma-bronchitis treatment and follow-up
· Complete vaccination programs
· Address drug and alcohol abuse, and tobacco use
· Help school nurses interact with physicians
· Update student "Health Passport"
· Address Social Issues:
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Teenage pregnancies
- Violent behavior
The Bogalusa Heart Study, encompassing Ward 4, has documented medical and social issues that involve the health of children. Many of these are preventable and they have a detrimental effect not only on the health of growing children but also on the economy of the community. Improving health of children and individuals throughout the Parish can be accomplished by planning and implementing already available programs. Although the Bogalusa Heart Study focused primarily on cardiovascular diseases, it became obvious that general health of children and young adults followed over the past 40 years have developed preventable medical problems, not only heart disease but other medical, dental and social problems. These disabilities can be prevented by helping young individuals achieve healthy lifestyles, not only through nutrition and physical activity but by understanding the damaging effect of unhealthy lifestyles such as use of excessive alcohol, tobacco use, inactivity and poor diets leading to obesity and increasing diabetes. Morbidity studies of 60-75% of participants in the Bogalusa Heart Study show abnormal cardiovascular risk factors. These are abnormal cholesterol and lipoprotein levels, high blood pressure, and morbid obesity leading to increase in Type II diabetes in young individuals. Although still rather young a number have already developed heart disease leading to bypass surgery and a number have sudden deaths. Smoking and alcohol use occur in 30% of young students. (Read more under Lessons Learned from the Bogalusa Heart Study)
We have an opportunity based on these findings to write a new chapter on the health of children which could be modeled across Louisiana and, in fact, the United States. The observations that have been made in Bogalusa are comparable to those in the Southeast and in the United States.
A $3.5 million award from NIH provided funds to develop cardiovascular prevention programs for families at high risk and a more important general public health school model directed to all children. The program to be outlined for Washington Parish is primarily directed toward health issues for all children. This includes 7,000 children of elementary school age throughout the Parish. (See also STICH – Supporting Timely Improvement in Children’s Health - Washington Parish Health Program for Elementary School Children, Health Ahead/ Heart Smart)
Implementation of the Program:
Funds have been awarded by the Washington Parish Council and materials by the Louisiana Office of Public Health to implement this program. Continuation funds need to be obtained for continuity of the program. The program requires a large amount of volunteer help throughout the Parish and within the small communities to see activities implemented. A number of committees or task forces can be formed to help implement various activities. The purpose of each is briefly outlined:
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