U.S. Health Service Sets Goals For The Next Century

By Ellen Flax — October 18, 1989 3 min read

Washington--The U.S. Public Health Service has unveiled an ambitious set of national goals designed to improve the health status of children and their parents by the year 2000.

The 339 health and education objectives outlined in the draft report include lowering the infant mortality rate to no more than 7 deaths per 1,000 live births; decreasing the percentage of adolescents who use drugs, alcohol, and tobacco; cutting the percentage of teenagers who engage in sexual relations; and increasing the percentage of students who participate in physical-education classes.

Several of the health service’s new objectives parallel concerns expressed at last month’s education summit, where participants agreed to set their own national performance goals for education.

The new objectives, released last month, are an expanded version of the 226 health goals for 1990 established by the health service in 1980. Although progress has been made in reaching some of the 1990 goals, many of the objectives have not yet been met, the report acknowledges.

To provide a more detailed--and more meaningful--accounting of progress, the new report includes target goals for the entire population as well as objectives for specific subgroups.

For example, the report states that the percentage of adolescents who start smoking should be reduced from 29.5 percent in 1987 to no more than 15 percent by 2000. For teenagers from lower-socioeconomic groups, however, the goal should be to reduce the percentage who start smoking to 20 percent, down from 40 percent in 1987.

Draft Goals

The draft goals, which will be made final next year, include the following objectives for 2000:

  • At least 90 percent of children under age 2 should receive the basic immunization series, up from about 75 percent to 80 percent in 1989.
  • No vaccine-preventable cases of measles, tetanus, or rubella, and only 500 cases of mumps, should be reported. Through the end of September, more than 10,000 cases of measles, more than 4,000 cases of mumps, and 300 cases of rubella had been reported this year.
  • At least 50 percent of schools should offer a comprehensive K-12 health-education curriculum, and 95 percent should have aids education for students in grades 7-12.
  • At least 45 percent of school-age children should participate in a daily physical-education program, up from 36 percent in 1984-86.
  • The percentage of young people who have used alcohol, marijuana, or cocaine during the previous month should be reduced by at least 50 percent.
  • The number of pregnancies among girls age 17 and under should be reduced--to no more than 2.5 per 1,000 children under age 14, and to no more than 55 per 1,000 teenagers ages 15 to 17.
  • No more than 10 percent of adolescents under age 15 should have sex, down from 19.2 percent in 1982. No more than 35 percent of unmarried older teenagers should have sex, down from 47 percent in 1982, and at least 75 percent of all teenagers having sex for the first time should use contraceptives.
  • Dietary fat for all people age 2 and older should be limited to 30 percent of all calories consumed, down from 36.4 percent in 1985, and at least 95 percent of all school-meal programs should have menus consistent with national dietary guidelines.
  • At least 80 percent of all low-income 3- and 4-year-olds should be enrolled in a preschool program in an effort to improve their academic performance and health status.
  • The dropout rate should be reduced to 8 percent, down from 12.6 percent in 1985. Hispanic youths should have a dropout rate of no more than 10 percent, down from 27.6 percent in 1985, and the rate for black students should be no higher than 8 percent, down from 15.1 percent.

A version of this article appeared in the October 18, 1989 edition of Education Week as U.S. Health Service Sets Goals For The Next Century