Column: Public health can save lives and money

March 22, 2013
by Susan Kunferman is the director/health officer for the Wood County Health Department
Marshfield News Herald


National Public Health Week is April 1 to 7, and it’s a great time to recognize the benefits of public health and prevention.

Every year in the United States, seven out of 10 deaths are due to preventable chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. In fact, chronic diseases account for a whopping 75 percent of national health care spending, yet only 3 percent of our health care dollars go toward prevention. Wood County is no exception to the burden of chronic and preventable diseases, but there are steps we can take to turn these trends around.

Research shows that investing just $10 per person each year in proven, community-based public health efforts can save the nation more than $16 billion within five years (Trust for America’s Health, 2009). That’s a $5.60 return for every $1 invested. I don’t know about you, but that’s a great payoff in any economic climate.


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