Treatment of chronic diseases account for 75% of all health care spending in the United States.
And while these investments are critically important to health care, health reform, or the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) recognizes that more needs to be done to prevent diseases, so as to improve quality of life and increase access to health care by decreasing total health care spending costs.
That’s why health reform called for the creation of the National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council (National Prevention Council.) Seventeen (17) heads of federal departments, offices, and agencies – including the Departments of Agriculture, Labor, Education Housing and Urban Development – sit on this Council, representing the cross-cutting approach to promoting prevention.
On June 16, 2011 the National Prevention Council released the National Prevention Strategy.
What is the National Prevention Strategy? Who is carrying out this initiative?
The National Prevention Strategy is the nation’s first coordinated plan to prioritize the prevention of disease and illness.
It calls not only on the federal government, but also state, tribal, local and territorial governments, the business community, health care systems, the education system and community and faith-based leaders to help our nation shift from the treatment of sickness towards the promotion of prevention.
The Strategy highlights four Strategic Approaches and Directions:
- Healthy and Safe Community Environments - Create, sustain, and recognize communities that promote health and wellness through prevention.
- Clinical and Community Preventive Services – Ensure that prevention-focused health care and community prevention efforts are available, integrated, and mutually reinforcing.
- Empowered People – Support people in making healthier choices.
- Elimination of Health Disparities – Eliminate disparities, improving the quality of life for all Americans.
And of the seven “Priorities,” Sexual and Reproductive Health is one. The Strategy calls on the federal government and partners to:
- Increase use of preconception and prenatal care.
- Support reproductive and sexual health services and support services for pregnant and parenting women.
- Provide effective sexual health education, especially for adolescents.
- Enhance early detection of HIV, viral hepatitis, and other STIs and improve linkage to care.
The Strategy highlights specific initiatives the federal government will take to promote the above efforts, including increasing access to comprehensive preconception and prenatal care, especially for low-income and at-risk women; supporting states, tribes, and communities to implement evidence-based sexual health education; and promoting and disseminating national screening recommendations for HIV and other STIs, among others.
The strategy also details specific actions partners can take to enhance sexual and reproductive health.
Why is the National Prevention Strategy important for Latinas’ reproductive health?
The National Prevention Council and the National Prevention Strategy represent our country’s first coordinated effort to prioritize prevention.
These efforts will positively impact the health of Latinas, as we disproportionately suffer from a number of health disparities, including diseases and chronic conditions.
For example, of all racial and ethnic groups, Latinas have the highest rate of cervical cancer diagnosis and second highest mortality rates from cervical cancer, a disease that can be prevented through access to routine Pap tests to detect abnormalities and treatment of abnormal cell growth.
Similarly, Latinas make up a disproportionate share of new HIV/AIDS cases. While Latinas make up 13% of the US population, we represent 16% of HIV/AIDS cases. Additionally, the AIDS case rate for Latinas is five times higher than the rate for white women.
Latinas and other women of color have faced long-standing barriers to preventive care – barriers that intersect with a number of social, economic, and environmental issues. Thus, a national dedication to prevention will help address long-standing health disparities faced by Latina communities and improve Latina health.
Please visit Nuestra Vida, Nuestra Voz tomorrow for another installation of 20 DAYS of ACA.