This is Public Health Week in Oregon and across the country. At the Oregon Health Authority, we use this time to celebrate the important work of our own Public Health staff and their efforts to improve the health and safety of Oregonians. Public Health touches us all by ensuring clean drinking water and safe food, preventing disease, preparing us for disasters and promoting good health for everyone.
As part of Public Health Week, we are celebrating the 40th anniversary of Oregon’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program. WIC serves mothers and their children from pregnancy to five years old. The program provides nutrition education, assistance in purchasing healthy foods and breastfeeding support. Through WIC, families also receive health screenings and are better connected to community resources.
More than 167,000 women and children participated in WIC in 2013, and more than 16,000 children turned five and graduated from the program. Research shows that these kids will have a much better chance of succeeding because they didn’t suffer food insecurity. They are also 13 percent more likely to be up-to-date on their immunizations.
Without public health programs like WIC, we couldn’t be nearly as effective in our efforts to provide better health, better care and lower costs for everyone. Partnerships between coordinated care organizations (CCOs) and local public health agencies are an important part of health system transformation. For example, some CCOs are collaborating with their local WIC agencies to ensure their members are receiving quality maternal and child health services. We will continue to weave public health initiatives like this into health system transformation efforts across the state to achieve our goal of a healthy Oregon.