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The Common Agenda

Priority Action 8

Focus Health and Human Services on Disease Prevention
and Health Promotion

This action aims to reduce the burden of poor health in the United States by preventing the onset of new illnesses and more effectively managing existing chronic diseases. It envisions changes in financing and delivery of health care to address the environmental and social conditions that cause and exacerbate disease.

Suggested steps to reverse trends in poor health are:

  • developing primary and secondary prevention programs that recognize the importance of socioeconomic disparities in determining the health status of individuals and populations:
    • For primary prevention: develop and implement policies that improve economic and social determinants that contribute to disease, including access to high-quality education starting in early childhood; increasing the number of households with adequate income through a variety of means, including tax policies; and improving access to new opportunities for enhanced job skills;
    • For secondary prevention: develop and implement policies that remove barriers to health associated with being among the least advantaged in society, including universal access to quality health care; ensuring safe, affordable, and healthy housing and neighborhoods; limiting workplace exposures to physical and chemical hazards and workplace stress;
  • establishing financing systems that ensure sufficient resources efficiently allocated for disease prevention programs and chronic disease management services, including environmental and social interventions;
  • expanding mechanisms for delivery of prevention-oriented in-clinic and home-based medical, social and environmental education, interventions and services;
  • rewarding health care providers who effectively emphasize and implement disease prevention;
  • investing in educational programs that train new and existing health care providers in best practices for implementing disease and injury prevention within routine services;
  • developing and implementing a disease prevention research agenda that involves the public in establishing priorities in the design of research and establishes mechanisms to preserve the integrity of the scientific process and the dissemination of results;
  • providing universal access to reproductive health services and the provision of free contraception and education to ensure responsible reproduction, and ensuring that all reproductive health programs adhere to the strictest standards of respect and sensitivity regarding gender equity and reproductive rights;
  • establishing a timeline to phase-out hazardous chemicals, medical products, and practices that pollute or contribute to disease in order to drive the development of safer alternatives.