Press Room

ASTHO Launches National Campaign to Support Healthy Communities, Aligning with NACCHO and the U.S. Surgeon General

ARLINGTON, VA (Sept. 27, 2018)—The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) announced this week the launch of a multi-year initiative to build healthier and more resilient communities across the country. The challenge, “Building Healthy and Resilient Communities,” will be led by ASTHO’s president and director of the Rhode Island Department of Health, Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, in partnership with the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) and aligned with the U.S. Surgeon General’s focus on community health and economic prosperity.

The challenge calls on state, territorial, local, and tribal health officials to align strategic investments and promote community-driven, place-based solutions to empower communities to be as healthy as possible, reduce health disparities, and stimulate economic development. Examples of such initiatives include Rhode Island’s Health Equity Zones, Purpose Built Communities in Georgia, the Fort Worth Blue Zones Project, and Live Well San Diego. Activities to support the challenge will center on creating opportunities for health officials to mobilize community advocates and partners towards making lasting systems and policy changes that improve living conditions at the community level. Using this platform, ASTHO and its partners, along with NACCHO and the U.S. Surgeon General, will connect public health officials with business leaders, policymakers, and other cross-sector stakeholders to shift investments to promote sustainable, equitable community development.

“Health officials have a critical role to play ensuring that everyone in every community has an equal opportunity to be as healthy as they can be, regardless of their zip code,” says Dr. Alexander-Scott. “My vision is for ASTHO, along with NACCHO and the U.S. Surgeon General, to empower all public health leaders to build stronger, more connected communities that have the assets and resources they need to create the conditions for success to be as healthy as possible. By funding and implementing sustainable strategies that are tailor-made for each community, we can amplify the community’s voice and transform public health for generations to come.”

“America’s greatest assets are its communities, so we should turn to them more often,” says VADM Jerome Adams, MD, MPH. “We have the best healthcare system in the world, yet life expectancy in the United States is lower than in many other high-income countries. State and local health officials know their communities best and should be inspired to change the community environment to make sure that healthy behaviors are easy behaviors that are available to everyone.”

“We’re pleased to lead this challenge with ASTHO and recognize there are great synergies between state and local health officials that will allow us to be successful in equipping and encouraging communities to think more strategically about health at the community level,” says Kevin Sumner, MPH, NACCHO president and health officer for the Middle-Brook Regional Health Commission in New Jersey.

View ASTHO’s President’s Challenge for more information.


ASTHO is the national nonprofit organization representing the public health agencies of the United States, the U.S. territories and freely associated states, and the District of Columbia, as well as the more than 100,000 public health professionals these agencies employ. ASTHO members, the chief health officials of these jurisdictions, are dedicated to formulating and influencing sound public health policy and to ensuring excellence in public health practice.