CHICAGO – December 8, 2011. The State of Illinois today welcomed U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina M. Benjamin and other members of the National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council (National Prevention Council) to Illinois. Members met in Chicago today for the first regional meeting of the National Prevention Strategy.
Dr. Benjamin chairs the National Prevention Council, a group of 17 federal department directors and secretaries established by President Obama in June 2010 to develop a National Prevention Strategy to improve health and wellness nationwide. A 17-member advisory group compromised of private citizens was also established to bring a diverse group of health professionals to provide advice related to policy and program development for the Strategy. The National Prevention Strategy will take a multi-sectoral look at community health, considering the variety of factors that influence health including: housing, education, transportation, environment and access to quality affordable food.
“Illinois is committed to improving health and wellness across our state, and to working with the federal government to put programs in place to help all Americans lead healthier lives,” said Governor Quinn. “We need to address the factors that cause poor health, such as lack of access to healthy food. The Council is addressing these issues head on, and I am pleased to welcome Surgeon General Benjamin and members of the Council to Illinois.”
Two Illinoisans are members of the 17-member Advisory Group. Barbara Otto is the CEO of Health and Disability Advocates, a national policy and advocacy organization centered on providing health care and employment-related services to people with disabilities. Susan Swider, Ph.D, is a professor in the College of Nursing at Rush University Medical Center, whose research has focused on community health workers and engaging urban communities in health promotion.
The National Prevention Strategy dovetails with Illinois’ state health Improvement Plan (SHIP), a prevention-focused, comprehensive approach to improving the health of Illinois residents. The SHIP is guided by an Implementation Coordination Council (ICC), which is charged with developing strategies to implement the strategies of the SHIP. In July, the Governor appointed the SHIP ICC, with representation from regions around the state, as well as a variety of public health perspectives: state and local government, providers, community-based organizations and consumers. The SHIP ICC also works collaboratively with the Governor’s Healthcare Reform Implementation Council to promote statewide improvements in public health.
In September, Governor Pat Quinn announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded Illinois a $24 million grant to support public health efforts to reduce chronic diseases, promote healthier lifestyles, reduce health disparities and control health care spending. The award, $4.8 million per year over five years, was made through a highly competitive national application process for Community Transformation Grants (CTG), an initiative of the Affordable Care Act.
In Illinois, the CTG is helping to increase the focus in local communities on prevention to reduce rates of chronic disease. The grant is providing funding to communities to implement changes to support breastfeeding, better health and nutrition in schools, reducing tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke, and reducing high blood pressure and cholesterol.