For Immediate Release: August 17, 2009
Trust for America’s Health Praises Major Foundations for Supporting Prevention as a Central Part of Health Reform
Trust for America's Health (TFAH) applauds six of the nation's top health foundations in their call for prevention to be a central part of health reform.
The California Endowment, The Kresge Foundation, Nemours, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Kaiser Permanente issued a joint letter today saying that, "Over time, a focus on community prevention will improve health, save money, reduce demands on our health system and, most importantly, lead to a nation of healthier people and healthier places to live."
These six foundations began the Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Convergence Partnership in 2006 with the shared goal of changing policies and environments to achieve the vision of a healthy people living in healthy places and have invested in numerous community-based disease prevention programs that have yielded in evidence-based results. The foundations say that "It is time to scale up these efforts by including robust financial support for community prevention in any health systems reform."
"These philanthropies have provided leadership for years developing excellent programs that have been shown to have a real impact on improving health in communities," said Jeff Levi, PhD, Executive Director of Trust for America's Health (TFAH). "Health reform provides the opportunity to take these lessons learned and bring them to scale so we can improve the lives of millions of Americans and save billions of dollars in health care costs."
TFAH's Prevention for a Healthier America: Investments in Disease Prevention Yield Significant Savings, Stronger Communities report, which included a review of evidence-based studies by The New York Academy of Medicine and an economic model developed by the Urban Institute, found an investment of $10 per person per year in proven community-based programs to increase physical activity, improve nutrition, and prevent smoking and other tobacco use, the country could save the country more than $16 billion annually within five years. This is a return of $5.60 for every $1.
Community-based, "primary" disease prevention programs include efforts outside of the doctor's office. One example of this was the Shape Up Somerville campaign in Somerville, Mass., which resulted in healthier food, safer routes to school, farmers markets, community gardens, and more nutritional restaurant options, and has already been shown to have slowed weight gain among first and third graders in the city.
"Smart, strategic investments in proven prevention programs can have a real payoff in dollars, workforce productivity, and quality of life," said Levi. "Health reform provides the opportunity to invest in the most effective, evidence-based types of prevention that have been shown through scientific research to improve health and save lives -- and in many cases, these programs have the added advantage of also lowering health care costs by helping people avoid developing preventable diseases, like type 2 diabetes and hypertension, and which cuts down on their need for expensive lifelong care and trips to the doctor's office."