I can only recall a few moments in my life (so far) where I stood in awe at the realization that I’d just witnessed history in the making. Thursday was one of those moments. Yesterday, the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin led a press conference to announce the first National Prevention Strategy.
The National Prevention Council, comprised of 17 Federal agencies and chaired by the Surgeon General, developed the National Prevention Strategy with input from stakeholders, the public, and the Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health.
This new national strategy aims to reduce leading causes of death and illness, such as smoking, bad eating habits and drug abuse. By focusing on prevention, the National Prevention Strategy plans to help Americans stay healthy and fit.
The goal is to increase the number of Americans who are healthy at every stage of life. The Strategy’s four Strategic Directions and seven Priorities include evidence-based recommendations fundamental to improving the nation’s health. Implementation of the Strategy will include public and private partners working together at the national, state, tribal, local, and territorial levels.
During the press conference, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), a major supporter of the strategy, said as a nation, we spend more than $2 trillion on health care each year, but we only invest 4 cents on every dollar on prevention. For every dollar invested in prevention, we would save $6.
Harkin said its time we move from a “sick care” system to a health care system. The idea of shifting our health consciousness away from sickness and disease and towards prevention and wellness was the theme for the moment.
The goal of creating a healthier America isn’t a new concept. For years, federal, national and local partners have independently and jointly come together to educate about the benefits of healthy living. Turn on the television and you will see the increasing number of reality shows focusing on weight-loss and overall mental and physical well-being. While this strategy was created by the government, ultimately the success of this strategy must come from the adoption of its four Strategic Directions and seven Priority areas by everyone – both government and private sector alike.
What was do you think the National Prevention Strategy will mean to the future of health and wellness in America? And, what does it mean to you?