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  [ 128 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • April 15, 2003

HHS Secretary Thompson Announces $15 Million In Funding for "Healthy Communities"

HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson today called on Americans to take the steps that will lead to a healthier nation at a first of its kind national health summit he convened in Baltimore. The two-day summit, "Steps to a Healthier US: Putting Prevention First," is being attended by a thousand community leaders, policy makers, health officials and others.

Focusing attention on the importance of prevention and promising approaches for promoting healthy environments, the Secretary laid out his priorities and programs for Steps to a HealthierUS, a department-wide effort in support of the President's HealthierUS initiative.

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. Underlying these serious diseases are several important risk factors -- poor nutrition, lack of physical activity, and tobacco use and exposure -- that can be modified years before they contribute to illness and death.

"I am convinced that preventing disease by promoting better health is a smart policy choice for our future," Secretary Thompson said. "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."

"Steps envisions a healthy, strong United States -- where diseases are prevented when possible, controlled when necessary and treated when appropriate. It's a bold shift in our approach to the health of our citizens, moving us from a disease care system to a health care system."

At the heart of this program lie both personal responsibility for the choices Americans make and social responsibility to ensure that policy makers support programs that foster healthy behaviors and prevent disease. Steps will focus on reducing the major health burden created by obesity, asthma, diabetes, heart disease and stroke, and cancer.

At today's summit, Secretary Thompson announced a $15 million "Healthy
Communities" initiative as part of the Steps initiative. The funds will
support programs that improve the lives of Americans through innovative and effective community-based chronic disease prevention and control programs addressing diabetes, obesity and asthma.

Communities will be charged with implementing programs that will improve the health of their citizens. These new programs will be directed to populations with the greatest needs, including racial and ethnic minorities, the elderly, youth and people with disabilities.

The availability of funds will be announced in the Federal Register shortly. President Bush's fiscal year 2004 budget substantially increases the investment in the Steps initiative to a total of $125 million, a $110 million increase from the fiscal year 2003 appropriation for the HHS-wide endeavor to promote healthier lifestyles.

In addition, HHS today released a Prevention Portfolio -- a series of three publications that will guide community leaders, policy makers and health officials in their efforts to make their communities healthier. The trio of publications provides useful tools -- the why, how, and what of disease prevention for policymakers and their managers. The first of a series in support of the Steps initiative, these three publications are:

· The Power of Prevention -- an informative resource for educating policymakers about long-term, cost-effective prevention programs. Detailing the economic and health burden of chronic diseases, this publication supports HHS efforts to bring together community leaders, as we take steps to creating a healthier U.S.

· Prevention Strategies That Work -- a how-to prevention guide for learning effective strategies for reducing the burden of diseases such as diabetes, obesity, cancer, heart disease and stroke, as well as for the lifestyle choices associated with them, including tobacco use, physical activity and nutrition, and youth risk taking.

· Prevention Programs in Action -- collection of exemplary prevention programs from states and communities across the United States, demonstrating that prevention is possible in every corner of the United States and for every citizen.

These publications, together with a brochure about Steps to a HealthierUS, are available at In addition, both days of the Summit will be Webcast and can be viewed at

Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at

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