2017 Report on the Health Philadelphia Citizens

2017 Report on the Health Philadelphia Citizens

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Philadelphia, PA - Philadelphia Department of Public Health released a new report, Health of the City, which describes the landscape of health for people who live in Philadelphia. The Health Department developed this report to help health care providers, City officials, people who make decisions for non-governmental organizations, and individual residents make more informed decisions on health and factors influencing health.

Health of the City includes summaries of data from a variety of sources to describe the demographics and health outcomes of the city’s residents as well as key factors that influence health in five broad categories: health outcomes, health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic determinants, and physical environment.

In general, most health indicators are improving, but some indicators – particularly those related to opioid use and unhealthy behaviors – are troubling. Some key findings include:

  • Heart disease and other chronic health conditions remain the leading causes of death in Philadelphia. There is a high prevalence of risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
  • The use of both pharmaceutical and illicit opioids has created a public health crisis.  Poisonings, which include unintentional drug overdoses, are now the leading cause of death for individuals ages 25 to 44. In 2016, the number of fatal drug overdoses more than doubled that of previous years, and is three times higher than homicides.
  • After years of seeing decreases in premature mortality (measured as years of potential life lost before age 75), this trend is changing and rates of premature mortality have begun to rise again. The increase is likely related to increasing rates of fatal drug overdoses among younger adults.
  • In 2016, the infant mortality rate was 8.3 per 1,000 live births, a 25% reduction from 11.2 per 1,000 live births in 2006.  Nonetheless, the infant mortality rate in Philadelphia is high compared to the national rate and it remains 2 to 3 times higher in non-Hispanic blacks than other racial and ethnic groups.
  • Teen birth rates continue to decline for all racial ethnic groups yet remain highest among Hispanics.
  • The number of new cases of HIV has fallen over the past decade, particularly among heterosexuals and injection drug users. Men who have sex with men continue to have much higher rates of HIV incidence.
  • In the past 10 years there has been a resurgence of syphilis in men who have sex with men.
  • Rates of lead exposure in children have declined over the last decade. In 2016, 342 children (0.9% of those tested) had venous blood lead levels above 10 ug/dL and 1,310 children (3.4% of those tested) had venous blood lead levels between 5 and 9 ug/dL.  Children in certain low-income neighborhoods, particularly in North Philadelphia and some parts of West and Southwest Philadelphia continued have higher rates of lead exposure than children in other parts of the city.
  • Non-Hispanic black and Hispanic children have rates of hospitalization for asthma 5 to 7 times that of non-Hispanic white children.
  • The number of days with unhealthy air quality is declining and days with good air quality is increasing in Philadelphia. In 2016, Philadelphians experienced nearly an equal number of days with good and moderate air quality, and only 9 days with unhealthy air quality.


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