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Press Release

For Immediate Release: December 12, 2008

Trust for America's Health Applauds New IOM Report on Improving the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for the 21st Century

Washington, DC, December 12, 2008 -- The Trust for America's Health (TFAH) commends the Institute of Medicine for their thoughtful recommendations in their new report HHS in the 21st Century: Charting a New Course for a Healthier America.

"The federal government is responsible for protecting the health of Americans, but the federal public health structure is broken and needs to be fixed," said Jeff Levi, PhD, Executive Director of TFAH.  "The Public Health Service, in particular, is underfunded, understaffed, and often uses out-of-date technologies to combat today's modern health threats.  That needs to change."

TFAH supports many of the top recommendations, including:

  • Strengthening the role of the Surgeon General;
  • Ensuring scientific and administrative integrity are protected in the appointment process;
  • Expediting the appointment and confirmation of HHS appointees;
  • Providing full funding that is secure and reliable for health agencies;
  • Unifying food safety agencies;
  • Strengthening the public health and health care workforces;
  • Improving accountability and strategic decision making to help improve the health of Americans; and
  • Creating cross-cutting and cross-departmental processes to ensure quick and effective responses to emerging and existing public health threats.

TFAH recently released recommendations for restructuring federal public health agencies in its report Blueprint for a Healthier America: Modernizing the Federal Public Health System to Focus on Prevention and Preparedness.  Some key recommendations include:

  • Setting new, realistic short and long-term health goals for the country;
  • Creating an independent, science-driven National Public Health Board;
  • Clearly defining public health emergency preparedness and response roles and responsibilities;
  • Creating a targeted Community Makeover Grant program to provide funding for a comprehensive, coordinated approach to community-based prevention activities with a particular focus on reducing chronic disease rates and addressing health disparities;
  • Ensuring a stable and reliable funding stream for core public health functions and preventive services, such as immunizations and screening, public health emergency preparedness, and promoting physical activity, good nutrition, and smoking prevention; and
  • Implementing a cross-cutting, cross-agency National Health and Prevention Strategy focused on lowering disease rates, including a strategy to combat obesity.

TFAH's full report: Blueprint for a Healthier America

Trust for America's Health is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to saving lives by protecting the health of every community and working to make disease prevention a national priority. www.healthyamericans.org

Contact

Elle Hogan
202-223-9870 x21
ehogan@tfah.org