This week the City of Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) released 18 different sets of public health statistics by community area or Zip code.
“Increasing the availability of public health information is one of the strategies outlined in Healthy Chicago, our City’s Public Health agenda that outlines 12 public health priorities that are all crossed in these data sets,” said Dr. Bechara Choucair, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health.
CDPH’s press release stressed the importance of the data because it will further the work of researchers, help allocate resources based on the needs of specific communities and help design public health intervention programs promoted by city agencies and community based organizations.
It is interesting, at least to me, to see how different the incident rates are for various categories depending on where a person lives. In 2010, the communities of Edison Park, O’Hare and Montclare had a zero incident rate of the total number of newly reported, laboratory-confirmed cases of female gonorrhea in women from ages 15-44. But in Austin, the incidents reported were 368! That is huge considering that the next nearest number reported was 191 in Greater Grand Crossing. There were a total of 5,818 newly reported cases in Chicago in 2010 for women.
Newly reported cases for men showed the most again in the Austin neighborhood with 239, but there were many neighborhoods where no cases were reported. The total new incidents in 2010 for men in Chicago were 4,683.
There are two conclusions we can surmise from the gender variation in reporting statistics. Since there were 20% more women than men who reported new cases of gonorrhea one could guess that women in Chicago are sleeping with men in the suburbs. More likely is that men are not going to the doctor and generating a report! I would go for the second guess!
That is the main problem with these kinds of statistics. If people don’t go to the doctor or answer surveys honestly, then the data is impotent in the City’s attempt to identify community needs.
This open portal of information about the health of Chicagoans is missing an important component. While the site lists statistics about diabetes, asthma, infant mortality and more, it leaves out the most important health statistic about the city—the financial health. According to the City's retirement security web site, the unfunded liability for the City’s pension funds will reach an estimated $35 billion in 2017. Now that is a statistic that that really makes me sick.