Friday, January 10, 2014

Governor's focus on health deserves another round of applause, Friedell Committee for Health officer writes in op-ed piece

Gov. Steve Beshear's focus on health in his State of the Commonwealth speech should be applauded, given the poor state of Kentucky's health, an officer of the Friedell Committee for Health System Transformation writes in an op-ed piece made available to Kentucky newspapers.

"Gov. Beshear has been frank with us about the health deficiencies that we know exist but pretend do not," Jane Chiles writes. "Within a day of his speech, he  announced a $1.7 million federal grant to go after the leading uglies – obesity, diabetes, stroke, heart disease and high blood pressure – to 'support our goal of improving our dismal health statistics.'"
"What to do about the uglies?" Chiles asks. "The Friedell Committee for Health has been convening health professionals and laymen over the past year to ask that question. The solutions will require resources and time. We need a commitment in Frankfort. But we also need a community commitment.
"Here’s the good news: We have an existing infrastructure for a state and community collaboration. We have a health department in each of our 120 counties. Their mission, guided by state statute and a state Department for Public Health, has been transformed in recent years. They still combat communicable diseases, provide health screenings and services and protect us with restaurant and other inspections. But the best of our health departments have also taken on the enormous task of keeping communities healthy by influencing the social, environmental and economic conditions affecting population health. We need more of that."
Chiles asks, "Why bother? Isn’t health an individual thing? You want to smoke? Smoke. You want to supersize your soda? It’s a free country. But here’s the thing: Improved population health links directly to improved education and vice versa. Likewise, for economic vitality. If we want a prosperous, smarter Kentucky ready to compete with the world, we need a healthy Kentucky." (Read more)

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