FRANKFORT — Calling the overall health of Kentuckians "dismal," Gov. Steve Beshear unveiled a program Thursday involving public and private strategies to improve the health of the state's people.
The program, called Kyhealthnow, sets seven major health goals to be met by Jan. 1, 2019, and urges state agencies, local governments, businesses, schools, non-profits and individuals to take steps to improve health.
Beshear said Kentucky is among the national leaders in cancer diagnoses, smoking rates, diabetes, heart disease and other maladies.
"Many individuals and groups in Kentucky are working on ways to make Kentuckians healthier, whether through improving access to trails, providing smoking-cessation tools or expanding availability of cancer screenings," Beshear said in a Capitol news conference with various state officials. "Through Kyhealthnow, we will finally monitor and measure all those efforts against seven major health goals, and every Kentuckian can help."
Beshear appointed Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson to be chairman of the Kyhealthnow working group to oversee the health goals. It is to meet every three months and report its progress to the governor every six months. The state's public health commissioner, Stephanie Mayfield, will serve as vice chairwoman.
The group will contain leaders from every state cabinet and will invite input and partnerships from various non-profit and private agencies.
These are the group's seven goals:
■ Health insurance: Reduce Kentucky's rate of uninsured residents to less than 5 percent.
■ Smoking: Reduce Kentucky's smoking rate by 10 percent. Beshear said he hopes the legislature will approve a statewide smoking ban and raise the state cigarette tax from 60 cents to $1 a pack.
■ Obesity: Reduce the rate of obesity among Kentuckians by 10 percent.
■ Cancer: Reduce Kentucky cancer deaths by 10 percent.
■ Cardiovascular disease: Reduce cardiovascular deaths by 10 percent.
■ Dental decay: Reduce the percentage of children with untreated dental decay by 25 percent, and increase adult dental visits by 10 percent.
■ Drug addiction: Reduce deaths from drug overdose by 25 percent and reduce the average number of poor mental health days of Kentuckians by 25 percent.
Beshear said each goal has "multiple strategies" to meet it. They will be available soon at Governor.ky.gov/kyhealthnow.