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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