Shifting from Sickness and Disease to Wellness and Prevention

September 3, 2013

Orginally published Jan. 09, 2012

Currently, chronic diseases account for at least 7 of every 10 deaths in the United States and for more than 75 percent of medical care expenditures. On Dec 6, 2011, Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness, Division of Health Promotion (DHP) launched the Health Promotion Advisory Coalition (HPAC) initiative to begin the process of mitigating the impact of chronic diseases in Fulton County, which was attended by 80 members of the community.

The DHP currently coordinates four coalition initiatives: Smoke Free Coalition (SFC), Diabetes Action Community Coalition (DCAC), Healthy Heart Coalition (HHC) and Safe Kids Coalition. HPAC was established to provide guidance, opportunities for the cross-coalition communication on prevention, health promotion and public health.

HPAC brought together elected officials from all fourteen municipalities in Fulton County, representatives from Atlanta and Fulton County Public School systems, the Metro Atlanta Chambers of Commerce, community-based organizations, academic institutions, hospitals, faith-based organizations, major metro Atlanta corporations, Insurance agencies, Georgia Department of Public Health and CDC to provide a forum for the complex planning and coordination of prevention efforts across the county.

The opening comments of the HPAC kick off meeting were provided by Dr. Patrice A. Harris, MD, Fulton County Health Services Director. “Working together, we will have potential policies that municipalities, local businesses and the community can follow to improve their health,” said Dr. Harris. “We will really work hard on evidence based practices. Evidence is out there and we do not have to reinvent the wheel.”

Dr. Harris was followed by a panel of speakers who lead the audience through the facts and figures of chronic diseases in Fulton County. The speakers were Dr. Nicole Flowers, MD, MPH, CDC Senior Medical Officer who made the case for policy, system and environmental changes, Dr. Matthew McKenna, MD, MPH Fulton County Health and Wellness Medical Director who spoke about the status of health in Fulton County and Nazeera Dawood, MBBS, MPH, CCRC, DHP Program Manager who spoke about the importance of forming HPAC to enhance efforts towards a healthier Fulton.

The participants laid the foundation for vision, goals, recommendations and action items for the HPAC and defined opportunities and roles to address health status of Fulton County residents. The activities of the HPAC are organized into four strategic focus areas: Building Capacity, Strategic Planning, Public Awareness/Community Engagement and Policy Implementation and Monitoring.
Heart disease, cancers, diabetes, chronic lung diseases and mental disorders exact a huge burden the county. HPAC is an opportunity to achieve a healthier Fulton community.

For more information about the HPAC, please contact Nazeera Dawood at (404) 613-1685.