THURSDAY, June 16 (HealthDay News) -- Good medical care alone
won't build a healthy nation, said U.S. government officials on
Thursday as they unveiled a new national initiative that will
emphasize wellness and disease prevention.
The National Prevention and Health Promotion Strategy, as it is
called, will focus on creating programs that take into account
health care, plus clean air and water, safe worksites, healthy
foods and drug and alcohol abuse.
"Nothing is more important to our nation's future than the health of our citizens," Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said during a morning press conference.
"To keep our country healthy in both body and mind, we need to make sure Americans get the best possible care when they get sick," she said. "But the most effective and the most affordable strategy is to keep people from getting sick in the first place."
The National Prevention Strategy arose from a provision of the
Affordable Care Act and was developed by the National Prevention
Council, which is made up of heads of 17 federal agencies.
"Today we take a momentous step forward in America's transformation from a sick-care system to a true health-care system, one that focuses on prevention, health promotion and wellness," said Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, also speaking at the press conference.
Harkin noted that the United States spends more than $2 trillion
on health care. But only 4 cents of every dollar has gone to
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," he said.
"For every dollar we invest in prevention, we save $6 in projected health care costs," he added.
The strategy's recommendations for a healthy and fit nation
include four key areas:
The policy also focuses on other key ways to improve health:
Health advocacy groups were quick to applaud the introduction of
the new strategy.
In a statement issued Thursday, Jeff Levi, executive director of
the Trust for America's Health, said: "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."
Robert Pestronk, executive director of the National Association
of County and City Health Officials, said in a statement that the
association "is pleased that the National Prevention Strategy's
strategic directions and priorities align so closely with the
day-to-day work of local health departments." Those health
departments focus on the health and well-being of every person in
their communities, he said, "and are often a community's first line
of defense against disaster and disease."
Government officials said that chronic diseases -- such as heart
disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes -- account for 7 of 10
American deaths each year and 75 percent of U.S. health
For more information on the new National Prevention Strategy,
U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services.
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