Sunday, February 08, 2009

Investment in Disease Prevention

An important new commentary by Steven H. Woolf, M.D., M.P.H., in the February 4, 2009, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association argues that in these difficult economic times, our nation can no longer ignore the importance of disease prevention.

Noting that the United States spends on prevention only a very small amount of its annual $2 trillion dollars in total health care spending, Woolf presents convincing reasons for policy-makers, health care providers and the public health community to recognize both the cost-effectiveness and health benefits of proven prevention measures such as screening tests, smoking cessation programs, immunizations and physical activity. With so much riding on our economic and personal health, Woolf persuasively argues that we should invest in these preventive services that are shown to reduce health care costs and improve health.

"Our health care system is geared to treating the sick with expensive tests and procedures. But what we ultimately need is to foster a culture of wellness by stopping bad health before it happens," said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "Congress and the President have made health reform a top priority. It is imperative that prevention be an integral part of any reform plan."

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