U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, MD, has a lot of good ideas about prevention and public health, and she had a rapt and enthusiastic audience while sharing these ideas at the NACHC Community Health Institute and Expo in San Diego, CA. She cited the landmark Affordable Care Act (ACA) and its expansion of health centers which can help “move us from a system based on sick care to a system based on wellness and prevention,” adding that health centers “are essential to the success” of ACA.
“We need a new approach,” said Dr. Benjamin, in pointing out the need to change the national conversation about prevention and focus on a more wholistic strategy that takes into account how people live. One of the solutions is the National Prevention Strategy that attempts “to increase the number of Americans who are healthy in every stage of their life, with goals to boost immunizations; empower people with tools so they can make their own healthy choices and elminate health disparities.” Benjamin noted the importance of comprehensive approach in community health that confronts the social determinants of health disparities, such as poverty, housing, and lack of education. The reason why we do this, said Dr. Benjamin, is because “almost everything we do really does affect the health and quality of life for all Americans.”
The Surgeon General’s remarks struck a high note with the general session audience, many of whom tweeted parts of their speech to their friends back home who couldn’t make the CHI conference. The conference has now ended, but you can check out some of the highlights on Twitter at www.twitter.com/nachc. Look for the conference #chi11 hashtag.