An ongoing grant-funded study released early Wednesday, March 20, ranks Will County among Illinois’ healthiest counties for the fourth consecutive year.
The study, called Mobilizing Action Toward Community Health (MATCH), uses data sets collected from numerous sources to rank the health of each Illinois County. The University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute authored the MATCH project with the help of funding provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
According to MATCH, Will County ranks 25th best among 102 Illinois counties surveyed in terms of health outcomes, and 29th best in health factors.
The health outcomes ranking are based on an equal weighting of morbidity and mortality measures that influence the length and quality of life. The health factors ranking is derived from an examination of numerous health behaviors, access to clinical care, the quality of clinical care, and physical environment. Social and economic factors were also considered.
“The MATCH project provides us with a valuable point in time snapshot of Will County’s overall health,” according to Will County Health Department Executive Director John Cicero. “It illustrates that community health is shaped by a wide variety of factors beyond what occurs at our doctor’s office, hospital, or health clinic. Everyone plays a role in community health: educators, business leaders, hospitals, the faith community, elected officials – everyone has some key role to play in order to make the community a healthy place to live and work.”
Will is one of six Chicagoland counties listed among the state’s healthiest jurisdictions. Cicero says public health administrators can utilize data from the health rankings to identify problems and address the most critical health priorities using measurable objectives.
“Every community can point to specific strengths and weaknesses that ultimately influence health,” Cicero said. “The information contained in studies of this magnitude can aid in the formation of community partnerships that develop strategies to address priority health objectives.”
The release of the 2012 MATCH study was timed to coincide with National Public Health Week (NPHW).
Since 1995, the public health community has celebrated NPHW during the first week each April to draw attention to the need for enhanced public health awareness and funding.
“We hope NPHW helps educate area residents about ways they can all live healthier lives, prevent illness, and focus on overall health,” Cicero added. “We can all take simple steps to avoid preventable illness and live healthier.”
Nearly a million Americans will die from diseases that could be prevented during 2013. The keys to reducing preventable death include: regular exercise, healthier diet, safe sex, reducing alcohol and tobacco consumption, and the provision of proper treatment for those with mental illness or substance use disorders.
“Healthy lives begin with prevention,” Cicero concluded. “Even small changes we make today can have a big impact on our health for the rest of our lives.”
For more information about MATCH, visit www.countyhealthrankings.org. For more information about National Public Health Week, visit www.nphw.org.