Commenters can suggest health goals of their own. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is giving members of the public a chance to tell it what objectives they think the department should consider adding to the Healthy People 2020 program.

HHS also is asking for comments on proposals that it add several new Healthy People 2020 objectives, including several objectives for dental schools.

One of the proposed objectives would be to encourage more dental schools to include more content on “counseling for health promotion and disease prevention.

About 98.3 percent of dental schools already include that kind of wellness content. The 2020 target would be 100 percent, officials said.

Some of the other proposed dental school objectives are:

  • Increasing  the percentage of dental schools that teach students about environmental health to 64.5 percent, from 58.6 percent.
  • Increasing the percentage of dental schools that require a “public health system” learning experience to 94.5 percent, from 84.5 percent.
  • Increasing the percentage of dental schools that require students to learn something about global health to 77.8 percent, from 70.7 percent.

The Healthy People 2020 program is an effort to collect data can serve as a kind of report card for U.S. efforts to promote health and prevent disease. Officials hope to use the program to set health care priorities and do more to meet the objectives included in the program, as well as to measure the country’s performance 

HHS published a series of Healthy People 2010 documents in the years leading up to 2010. The department started the 2020 version of the program in December 2010.

The 2020 report will include data on matters such as efforts to fight heart disease, obesity and diabetes; efforts to expand ownership of health insurance; and efforts to expand access to health care services, including dental care.

Comments are due Nov. 5.

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