The new National Prevention and Health Promotion Strategy is an opportunity to move the nation's healthcare system from one that focuses on sickness and disease to one based on prevention and wellness. It encompasses actions that both public and private sectors can take to help Americans stay fit and healthy at every stage of life.
This comprehensive plan was created by the National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council with input from the public and an Advisory Group of outside experts, and it is part of the Affordable Care Act enacted by the Obama Administration. The Strategy encourages that prevention strategies be woven into all aspects of the lives of Americans and recognizes that good health is not limited to receiving quality medical care.
Focusing on preventing disease and illness before they occur will help to create healthier environments in which Americans can live, learn, work, and play, and will increase the likelihood of longer, more productive lives and reduced healthcare costs.
"We know that prevention helps people live long and productive lives and can help combat rising healthcare costs," said Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a news release from the HHS. Seven out of ten deaths among Americans each year are the result of chronic diseases such as heart disease or cancer. Nearly half of American adults have at least one chronic illness, most of which are preventable. Therefore, stopping disease before it starts is a key component of the Strategy.
Health disparities exist among certain population groups and the new Strategy aims to eliminate these and insure that all Americans can achieve and maintain their health. Certain racial and ethnic communities experience higher rates of obesity, cancer, diabetes, and AIDS. Children, especially African American and Hispanic children, are becoming increasingly vulnerable to health problems because nearly a third of our nation's children are overweight or obese, and therefore more likely to develop chronic diseases. By eliminating such health disparities, the new Strategy aims to improve the quality of life for all Americans.
The National Prevention Strategy outlines four strategic directions that are fundamental to improving the nation's health:
- Building Healthy and Safe Community Environments
- Expanding Quality Preventive Services in Both Clinical and Community Settings -
- Empowering People to Make Healthy Choices
- Eliminating Health Disparities
In order to achieve these goals, seven priority areas with their evidence-based recommendations are identified:
- Tobacco-free living
- Preventing drug abuse and excessive alcohol use
- Healthy eating
- Active living
- Injury and violence-free living
- Reproductive and sexual health
- Mental and emotional well being