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Healthy People, Health Carolinas

Research shows that South Carolina ranks 42nd among all states when it comes to the overall health of its residents, earning poor rankings for its obesity and physical inactivity rates. Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas (HPHC), an initiative funded by The Duke Endowment, recognizes that health and well-being are created and sustained not just through individual and clinical efforts, but through the cooperation and support of the extended local community.

HPHC targets 20 specific communities from across North and South Carolina to promote behavior changes addressing important chronic health issues. There are currently ten active HPHC sites in South Carolina—Greenville, Kershaw, Fairfield counties, the Bamberg/Calhoun/Orangeburg area and the Chesterfield/Dillon/Marlboro area were part of the initial cohort, while Spartanburg, York, Barnwell, Georgetown and the Dorchester/Berkeley/Charleston area were added in 2018. Each HPHC coalition will pick specific areas of focus (healthy weight, diabetes, heart disease, etc.) and work to improve physical health and nutrition. These coalitions also involve leaders from a wide spectrum of community organizations as they develop ways to engage residents in improving their health.

While each coalition has freedom in what approach to take, the crucial first step—and one that is funded by The Duke Endowment’s grant—is to strengthen the infrastructure of the local coalitions that are coordinating the effort, so that they’re well-positioned to identify and implement interventions that work.

“The health challenges facing the Carolinas have been decades in the making,” said Lin Hollowell, Director of Health Care at The Duke Endowment. “They cannot be effectively addressed overnight. The health challenges also cannot be solved by individuals and organizations working alone. Through Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas, communities can work together to confront their problems and make the most progress in achieving solutions.”

Representatives from the coalitions also participate in a learning collaborative with opportunities to share information with each other as they develop best practices for organizing, planning and implementing evidence-based programs known to improve health.

The coalitions selected by the Endowment are intentionally diverse and unique—this is by design, so that there will be many opportunities for exchanging ideas while each community receives support to pave its own path forward.

The hope is that, eventually, the lessons of these coalitions can inform the work of others throughout the Carolinas.