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Bigbypic2 By Dr. JudyAnn Bigby

Prevention consistently comes up as an important strategy to contain the growth in the health care costs, but most observe that the United States invests too little in prevention. About 5% of the U.S. healthcare budget is spent on prevention. We know prevention can lower health care costs, which is why the establishment of the National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council, created by the nation’s Affordable Care Act (ACA), is so important.

And yesterday, the Council released the first National Prevention Strategy, which the Council developed with input from stakeholders, the public and the President’s Advisory Group (of which I am a proud member).  The National Prevention Strategy serves as a comprehensive plan to increase the number of Americans who are healthy at every stage of life and helps move the nation away from a health care system focused on sickness and disease to one that is focused on wellness and prevention. It also acknowledges that prevention and health promotion can be built into our every day lives at home, work, and in our communities.   

The strategy released yesterday outlines four initiatives that offer a comprehensive plan for improving the nation’s health.  The four initiatives are:

  • Building healthy and safe community environments:  Prevention of disease starts in our communities and at home; not just in the doctor’s office. 
  • Expanding quality preventive services in both clinical and community settings: When people receive preventive care, such as immunizations and cancer screenings, they have better health outcomes and lower health care costs. 
  • Empowering people to make healthy choices:  When people have access to actionable and easy-to-understand information and resources, they are empowered to make healthier choices. 
  • Eliminating health disparities: By eliminating disparities that exist in the effort to achieve and maintain good health, we can help improve quality of life for all Americans. 

Under the coordination of the National Prevention Council and the guidance of the Advisory Group, federal agencies, as well as public and private partners, will work together to help implement the Strategy at the national, state, tribal, and local levels in seven priority areas: tobacco-free living; active lifestyles; prevention of drug abuse and excessive alcohol use; injury and violence-free living; reproductive and sexual health; healthy eating; and mental and emotional wellness.

Already, the Obama Administration has a number of efforts underway that help support and achieve the goals outlined in the National Prevention Strategy.  Council members are working together to implement programs to improve all Americans’ lives, including the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, and Executive Order 13548 to make the federal government a model employer of persons with disabilities. Through these initiatives and others, the federal government is working to ensure every American has the opportunity to live their healthiest life possible.

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