Top 10 Health Issues Faced by Maine People

(90-Second Read)

Policy in Brief:

Maine’s Bureau of Health Director, Dr. Dora Mills, argues that more proactive policies at the local, state, and national levels, and changes to our surrounding environments, can greatly alleviate the top health issues faced by Maine’s people.

Fascinating Features:The 10 Health Issues Faced by Maine People

  1. Access to Health Care and Prevention: Despite ranking first in the world for dollars spent per capita for health, spending it ranks 24th in health attainment and 32nd for equality of child survival.
  2. Chronic Disease: Nearly 75% of Maine people die from only four diseases: cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, and diabetes.
  3. Environmental Health: Exposure to hazardous agents in the water, air, soils, and food, and physical hazards of the environment account for 25% of all preventable ill health in the world.
  4. Reproductive and Perinatal Health: Measurements that gauge the health status of pregnant women and infants are a key barometer not only of the health of a family but also the entirety of society since so many community factors, support systems, and public policies contribute toward the health of these two vulnerable populations.
  5. Infectious Disease: Lack of proper vigilance to maintain education regarding infectious disease control through clean drinking water, good hygiene, vaccines, and antibiotics leaves the population vulnerable to a myriad of infections.
  6. Injury: For Maine citizens under the age of 58, deaths from injuries far surpass all other causes of death and are responsible for more productive years of life lost than any other cause.
  7. Mental Health: Afflicting persons of all racial and ethnic groups, both genders, and all educational and   socioeconomic groups, mental disorders have been called equal-opportunity disorders. About one in five adolescents and adults through age 64 have had a diagnosable mental disorder in any given year.
  8. Occupational Health: Maine’s occupational injury and illness rates consistently exceed national rates—each month, more than 1,000 Maine people miss work due to workplace injuries or illness. Most of these illnesses and injuries are preventable.
  9. Physical Inactivity and Nutrition: Obesity rates in Maine have risen 64% over the past decade. Close to 60% of Maine people are either overweight or obese.
  10. Substance Abuse: In Maine, it is estimated that substance abuse costs over $1 billion in lost wages, medical expenditures, with tobacco contributing an additional $500 million in health care costs. However, the social impact on one’s family, friends, and community from alcohol, illicit drug, and tobacco addiction is immeasurable.


Policymakers at all levels play a critical role in determining the health of the populations they serve. A health system that is completely left to the individual will be driven by market forces and will result in a demand-driven health system focused on treating illness, since that is where the demand is. Often, there is no natural “market” driving demand for prevention initiatives, especially those that are focused on the need of those facing the greatest health challenges.

Dig Deeper:

Dora Anne Mills, Top 10 Health Issues Faced by Maine People, Maine Policy Review 12.1 (2003): 30 – 54. (24 Pages, 15 minute read)



From MPR’s Archive:

King, Leslie and Marks, Stephen, “Teenage Births in Maine: Positive Trends but More to be Done.” Maine Policy Review. 11.2 (2002): 100-115.

Littell, David. “Why More is Required to Address Maine’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Problem.” Maine Policy Review. 11.2 (2002): 116-129.

Sorg, Marcella H., Greenwald, Margaret, Wren, Jamie. “Patterns of Drug-Induced Mortality in Maine, 2015 Update, Maine Policy Review 25.1 (2016): 34-46.

Related Resources:

Healthy Maine 2010

Healthy People 2010