Archive for January 2009

Obama gives public health a shout out

With the world’s eyes on D.C. this week, public health got a boost from none other than President Obama himself. The high-profile acknowledgement came during this week’s Youth Inaugural Ball, which was billed as a celebration of the role young people can play to serve their communities.

As he addressed the crowd, Obama said:

“We know that young people everywhere are in the process of imagining something different then what has come before. Where there is war they imagine peace, where there is hunger they imagine people being able to feed themselves, where there is disease they imagine a public health system that works for everybody, where they imagine bigotries they imagine togetherness.”

Don’t believe me? Check it out for yourself (the quote starts at about the 3:00 mark)!

As we seek to impart the importance of public health to our nation’s health, it’s encouraging that millions of people heard our new president call for establishing an effective, comprehensive public health system – not a health care system, mind you – as a means of preventing disease!

What did you think Obama’s public health mention?

Calling for action

With D.C. gearing up for next week's inauguration, APHA has released a list of its public health priorities for the new Congress and administration.

These recommendations are part of NPHW efforts to urge our elected leaders to recognize the importance of public health as the foundation for a strong national health system that is able to address the many health challenges facing our nation.

Check them out here and then share your thoughts in the comments. What other legislative asks do you think the public health community should promote?

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NPHW 2009 toolkit now available!

The "Building the Foundation for a Healthy America" toolkit is now available. The toolkit includes fact sheets, media outreach materials, suggested community events, legislative information and resources for everyone to use throughout NPHW. Start planning your NPHW event today!

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Coming up short

Add this to the looming hurdles on the road to health reform: A recent Physicians’ Foundation survey of 12,000 doctors — mostly primary care physicians — found that half are planning to reduce their patient load or stop practicing altogether. Translation: When the health care doors open to the nation’s 45 million uninsured, will anyone be there to welcome them?

It’s a prediction complicated even more by a September study in the Journal of the American Medical Association that showed only 2 percent of graduating medical students are planning a career in general internal medicine, and an earlier Health Affairs study that predicted a primary care physician shortage of up to 44,000 by 2025.

The problem? Just take a look at Massachusetts. A couple years ago, the state passed sweeping health reform legislation resulting in near universal health coverage in the state. The downside? Not enough primary care doctors to see the hundreds of thousands of newly insured residents.

Pretty sobering. Primary care physicians, along with pediatricians, nurses and other primary care providers, are like the backbone of the health care delivery system, providing the regular check-ups, screenings, preventive advice and treatment that keep people healthy. Plus, the primary care provider is often the person that we learn to trust — something that can’t be overestimated when it comes to staying healthy.

So, what to do? Policy-makers at state and national levels have been working on legislation to beef up the primary care work force, with incentives such as loan repayments and scholarships for medical students and nurses willing to work in under-served communities. But with such massive shortages predicted, will that be enough?

Read more about the problem from AMA and let us know your thoughts.

P.S. Our country is also facing a major public health worker shortage. But since it’s the new year, I’ll stick to one piece of bad news at a time.

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