New Hanover County holds public health forum

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — New Hanover County leaders held a health forum to explain how different factors affect the community’s health Monday night.

The forum was held on UNCW’s campus where community leaders presented a current health profile across the area. Local leaders from the health and education field were also there to listen and answer questions from community members.

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When the county’s Public Health Director Phillip Tarte asked the audience, many suggested drug overdose. But learned the leading cause of death in the county is cancer followed by heart disease.

Tarte also went over the biggest issues affecting our community.

“I still think we have an obesity issue. Both adult and childhood,” Tarte said. “I still think we have a violence issue that we can tackle. I still think diabetes is going to be an issue we’re going to be looking at for years to come. But I do think we can make some excellent strides as long as we work together as a community and not separately like we’ve done in the past.”

New Hanover County Social Services Director Michelle Winstead says events like this are much needed especially now.

“Well certainly the opioid issue is critical.” Winstead said. “And being in the Department of Social Services that is one of our primary concerns right now. Because when the fatalities happen or when the challenges happen. And the addictions occur. Then we have to help those children remain safe.”

This forum was the kick-off for a county-wide collective impact initiative. Organizers hope it will bring people in the community who share common goals together, to help fight the problems.

Organizers also say health priorities and strategies will be developed for future planning sessions to help redefine the county’s impact on health.