New US Plan for Disease Prevention
Urging Americans to take responsibility for their health,Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson on Tuesday launched a $15 million program to try to encourage communities to do more to prevent chronic diseases like heart disease,cancer and diabetes.
The initiative highlights the cost of chronic diseases — the leading causes of death in the United States — and outlines ways that people can prevent them,including better diet and increased exercise.
"In the United States today,7 of 10 deaths and the vast majority of serious illness,disability and health care costs are caused by chronic diseases." the Health and Human Services Department said in a statement.
The causes are often behavioral — smoking,poor eating habits and a lack of exercise.
"I am convinced that preventing disease by promoting better health is a smart policy choice for our future." Thompson told a conference held to launch the initiative.
"Our current health care system is not structured to deal with the escalating costs of treating diseases that are largely preventable through changes in our lifestyle choices."
Thompson said heart disease and strokes will cost the country more than $351 billion in 2003. "These leading causes of death for men and women are largely preventable,yet we as a nation are not taking the steps necessary for us to lead healthier,longer lives." he said.
The $15 million is slated to go to communities to promote prevention,pushing for changes as simple as building sidewalks to encourage people to walk more.
Daily exercise such as walking can prevent and even reverse heart disease and diabetes,and prevent cancer and strokes.
The money will also go to community organizations,clinics and nutritionists who/are being encouraged to work together to educate people at risk of diabetes about what they can do to prevent it and encourage more cancer screening.
The American Cancer Society estimates that half of all cancers can be caught by screening,including Pap tests for cervical cancer,mammograms for breast cancer,colonoscopies,and prostate checks.
If such cancers were all caught by early screening,the group estimates that the survival rate for cancer would rise to 95 percent.