National Public Health Week is April 1 to 7, and it's a great time to recognize the benefits of public health and prevention.
Every year in the United States, seven out of 10 deaths are due to preventable chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. In fact, chronic diseases account for a whopping 75 percent of national health care spending, yet only 3 percent of our health care dollars go toward prevention. Wood County is no exception to the burden of chronic and preventable diseases, but there are steps we can take to turn these trends around.
Research shows that investing just $10 per person each year in proven, community-based public health efforts can save the nation more than $16 billion within five years (Trust for America's Health, 2009). That's a $5.60 return for every $1 invested. I don't know about you, but that's a great payoff in any economic climate.
The data is clear regarding the value of prevention to our lives, our pocketbooks, and our futures, and we all have a role to play in making our communities healthier places. Many small preventive steps can add up to a big difference in transforming a health care system focused on treatment to one that equally values prevention. What will your role be? You can start by pledging to eat healthier, be more physically active and say no to tobacco.
What else is clear? Our nation and community cannot sustain the current trajectory of health care spending and chronic disease rates. Fortunately, we know that investing in prevention and public health can make an enormous difference. For example, research shows that each 10 percent increase in local public health spending contributes to a nearly 7 percent decrease in infant deaths, a 3.2 percent decrease in cardiovascular deaths, and a 1.4 percent decrease in diabetes-related deaths (www.apha.org). Public health and prevention are critical pieces in creating a healthier nation, state, county, and community.
So do your part and take one step toward a healthier future. See your health care provider regularly, follow the advice they give you, say no to tobacco and maintain a healthy weight.