Described as a comprehensive plan to help improve the health of Americans at every stage of life, the National Prevention Strategy: America's Plan for Better Health and Wellness focuses on several factors for good health, including clean air and water, safe workplaces, reducing drug and alcohol abuse, and healthy diets. The strategy was released by members of the National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council, including Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Surgeon General Regina Benjamin (Chair), as well as Senator Tom Harkin and Domestic Policy Council (DPC) Director Melody Barnes.
Developed by the National Prevention Council, the Strategy, arose from a provision of the Affordable Care Act, is the result of extensive collaboration from 17 federal agencies, outside experts and stakeholders.
Secretary Sebelius said:
"This National Prevention Strategy, called for under the Affordable Care Act, will help us transform our health care system away from a focus on sickness and disease to a focus on prevention and wellness. We know that prevention helps people live long and productive lives and can help combat rising healthcare costs."
DPC Director Melody Barnes, said:
"Helping Americans live more healthful lives is a top priority for the Obama Administration. The National Prevention Strategy is a road map to help us achieve that goal, and will help public and private partners come together to build healthier communities using evidence-based strategies that we know work."
According to the HHS, the four strategic directions of the National Prevention Strategy are:
- Community environments - community environments need to be safe and healthy; this is where disease prevention should start, as well as in our homes. Not just at the doctors' - good medical care alone won't build a healthy nation.
- Better preventive services in community and clinical settings - immunizations, cancer screening and other types of preventive services lead to better public health and reduced health care costs.
- Having healthy choices - in order to make healthier choices, people need access to user-friendly and actionable resources and data.
- Reducing health disparities - the quality of life for all Americans can be significantly improved if disparities in achieving and maintaining health can be eliminated.
- Being physically active
- Eliminate tobacco use
- Emotional and mental wellbeing
- Healthy diet
- Prevent drug abuse
- Prevent excessive alcohol use
- Reproductive health
- Sexual health
- Violence and injury-free living
"As a family physician, I understand the importance of stopping disease before it starts. The leadership of this council and the strategy will help us create a healthy and fit nation by making prevention a part of our daily lives."
Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, pointed out that the USA spends over $2 trillion of health care. However, only 4% of that money is spent on prevention and public health.
"In spite of the fact that we know that prevention and public health are among the best tools we have to reduce health care spending in this country. For every dollar we invest in prevention, we save $6 in projected health care costs."
The Trust for America's Health (TFAH) welcomed the release of The Strategy.
Jeff Levi, PhD, Executive Director of TFAH, and chair of the Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health:
"The National Prevention Strategy (NPS) is an historic event. For the first time, 17 federal agencies will be working together to move the nation from a focus on sickness and disease to prevention and wellness. This signals a major shift in how the nation cares for Americans. Quite simply, prevention is an investment in the future health of America. This strategy puts us on a pathway toward improving the health and quality of life for individuals, families, and communities around the country.
The NPS commits the federal government to doing its part in assuring that all Americans have the opportunity to be as healthy as they can be. Where we live, learn, work, and play all have a major impact on our health. The NPS recognizes that we must assure that preventive and integrative health services are part of the health care delivery system. But just as importantly, the NPS also recognizes that every part of our society, from transportation and housing to labor and defense can help improve the health of individuals, families, and communities. By cutting across many federal agencies, the NPS will, for the first time ever, ensure we're leveraging policies so they are win-wins to improve health, while at the same time improving housing, education, the economy, productivity, military readiness, and the environment.
Research shows that the public overwhelmingly agrees that prevention of illness has been neglected in our health care system and now must receive top priority. I know I speak for the Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health that we stand committed to work with the National Prevention Council to see that this strategy is fully implemented and that we build support for it around the country so we can fulfill the promise of a healthier America."
TFAH and 79 other organization have signed a letter welcoming the release of The Strategy.
NACCHO (National Association of County and City Health Officials) also welcomed the release of The Strategy.
Robert Pestronk, executive director of NACCHO, said:
"This first-ever National Prevention Strategy is a significant step toward engaging a broad spectrum of partners from diverse sectors in a national effort to build an integrated health system - one that is focused on preventing diseases, rather than just treating them. For years, and with NACCHO's leadership, local health departments have fostered this type of collaboration in communities across the country, in order to ensure the conditions that promote health and equity, help people fight disease before it happens, and improve the quality and length of all lives."
NACCHO says it is please with The Strategy's strategic directions and priorities.
According to US health authorities, chronic diseases account for 70% of deaths in the US each year and about 75% of health spending.
National Prevention Strategy: America's Plan for Better Health and Wellness
Written by Christian Nordqvist