About

ASTHO President’s Challenge Initiatives

The ASTHO President's Challenge is a yearly initiative of ASTHO to improve population health through the leadership of state and territorial public health officials and their agencies.

- 2017 -

Public Health Approaches to Preventing Substance Misuse and Abuse

This challenge is being led by Jay Butler, MD, CPE, director of public health at the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. He is ASTHO’s current president and will serve from 2016-2017.

ASTHO challenges U.S. state and territorial health agencies to work together and use proven public health approaches to prevent substance misuse, addictions, and the related consequences. Key strategies include: reduce stigma and change social norms, increase protective factors and reduce risk factors in communities, and improve prevention and infrastructure. Learn more »

- 2016 -

Advance Health Equity and Optimal Health for All

This challenge was led by Edward Ehlinger, MD, MSPH, commissioner of health at the Minnesota Department of Health. He served as ASTHO president from 2015-2016.

ASTHO challenged U.S. state and territorial health agencies to address the issue of health equity with a triple aim approach: implement a health in all policies approach with health equity as the goal, expand our understanding of what creates health, and strengthen the capacity of communities to create their own healthy future.

States carried out this work through a variety of channels, including policy development, cross-sector collaboration, and program implementation.
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- 2015 -

Living Longer Better Across All Sectors

This challenge was led by Jewel Mullen, MD, MPH, MPA, former commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Public Health. She served as ASTHO president from 2014-2015.

ASTHO challenged U.S. state and territorial health agencies to promote the health of older adults by collaborating across sectors to implement evidence-based strategies for increasing the number of older adults who are living well in our communities. These strategies cover a wide variety of topics, including: injury and violence free living, tobacco free living, and healthy eating.

Mullen aimed to galvanize support for state health officials, their public health teams, state and local experts in aging, and a broad network of partners to implement evidence-based strategies to advance healthy aging. The challenge reflected a comprehensive approach as highlighted in the National Prevention Strategy and also included an emphasis on data/surveillance and caregiving. Learn more »

- 2014 -

15 by 15: Reduce Prescription Drug Abuse and Deaths 15 Percent by 2015

This challenge was led by Terry Cline, PhD, commissioner of health at the Oklahoma State Department of Health. He served as ASTHO president from 2013-2014.

ASTHO challenged U.S. state and territorial health agencies to reduce the rate of nonmedical use and the number of unintentional overdose deaths involving controlled prescription drugs 15 percent by 2015. They used a multitude of strategies, including: expand and strengthen prevention strategies, improve monitoring and surveillance, and expand and strengthen control and enforcement.

The initiative empowered state health officials and their leadership teams, together with a broad network of partners, to identify strategies for improving health outcomes and reducing human and economic costs associated with prescription drug misuse, abuse, and overdose. ASTHO built on the existing work and leadership around this issue at the federal, state, and local levels to promote cross-sector, multidirectional collaboration. Learn more »

- 2013 -

Advance the Reintegration of Public Health and Healthcare

This challenge was led by José Montero, MD, MHCDS, former public health director at the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. He served as ASTHO president from 2012-2013.

ASTHO challenged U.S. state and territorial health agencies to help break down the walls between public health and healthcare delivery so as to increase healthcare quality, decrease cost, and improve overall population health. The challenge built on the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, Primary Care and Public Health: Exploring Integration to Improve Population Health (released March 28, 2012) and a strategic map developed by a collaboration of ASTHO, the IOM, and key public health and primary care leaders. Montero emphasized the need to take a systems approach to healthcare transformation to achieve lasting improvements in population health.

Montero asked each state health official to identify at least one example from their state or territory that demonstrates successful integration of public health and healthcare delivery to serve as models of practice. Learn more »

- 2012 -

Healthy Babies: Improve Birth Outcomes by Reducing Infant Mortality and Prematurity in the United States

This challenge was led by David Lakey, MD, former commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services. He served as ASTHO president from 2011-2012.

ASTHO challenged U.S. state and territorial health agencies to improve birth outcomes by reducing infant mortality and prematurity in the United States. Lakey partnered with his colleagues in HHS Regions IV and VI to develop a regional quality improvement project focused on decreasing infant mortality, with an initial emphasis on prematurity.

State and territorial health agencies worked to improve birth outcomes by reducing infant mortality and prematurity in the United States, with a pledge to decrease prematurity 8 percent by 2014. Specific focus areas included: preconception, prenatal, birth to 28 days, and first year.

State health officials were encouraged to implement strategies based on successful national, regional, and state efforts, tailoring best and promising practices for maximum impact throughout the country. ASTHO collaborated with the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of HRSA, the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, the March of Dimes, CDC, and other partners.
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- 2011 -

Reduce Health Disparities and Achieve Health Equity in the United States

This challenge was led by John Auerbach, MBA, former commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. He served as ASTHO president from 2010-2011.

ASTHO challenged U.S. state and territorial health agencies to consider new ideas, become engaged, and work together to ensure that everyone in this country has equal potential for good health. Strategies for meeting this challenge included collecting data on social determinants of health by race, ethnicity and language; developing targeted campaigns that feature diverse populations; promoting higher quality, culturally competent services for all populations; partnering with non-health organizations such as the state departments of labor, transportation, education, and housing to change the conditions in people’s lives; developing a special issue report focusing on health disparities in your state; and engaging with communities to work on health inequities.

- 2010 -

Reduce Preventable Injuries and Death in the United States

This challenge was led by Paul Halverson, DrPH, FACHE, former state health officer and director of the Arkansas Department of Health. He served as ASTHO president from 2009-2010.

ASTHO challenged U.S. state and territorial health agencies to consider new ideas, become engaged, and work together to save lives that would otherwise be needlessly lost. In his words: "Proven interventions exist across a broad array of topic areas emphasizing the fact that injury prevention affects us all. What will be your entry point for you to accomplish much needed change in your home state?” Areas of injury prevention to be addressed included: falls prevention, motor vehicle safety, child maltreatment prevention, home and recreational safety, child injury prevention, teen dating violence prevention, traumatic brain injury, and unintentional poisoning.

- 2009 -

"Walk the Talk" - State Health Officials Modeling Healthy Behaviors

Judith Monroe, MD, FAAFP, former state health commissioner of the Indiana State Department of Health, conceptualized and launched the first ASTHO President’s Challenge during her tenure as ASTHO president from 2008-2009.

Monroe challenged her colleagues, the state and territorial health officials of the United States, to "Walk the Talk" by personally modeling healthy behaviors such as staying physically active and choosing and providing healthy food options.