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A Healthier America Begins with Strong Public Health Systems across the County

September 4, 2013

Originally published April 2, 2012

Preventing diseases and injuries before they start is critical to helping people live longer, healthier lives while managing health-related costs. Chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes are responsible for millions of premature deaths and cause Americans to miss 2.5 billion days of work each year, resulting in lost productivity totaling more than $1 trillion.

We must work to move our health system from one based on sick care to one rooted in wellness, prevention and preparedness. Preventive measures can improve the health of individuals, families and communities. Doing so will help America become a healthier place and help reach our goal of becoming the healthiest nation in just one generation.

During 2012, National Public Health Week (NPHW) and the American Public Health Association (APHA) will build upon the National Prevention Strategy, created by the National Prevention Council, to improve health and wellness across the lifespan. Participate in National Public Health Week and help educate families, communities and public officials about the importance of creating environments that promote healthy lifestyles and healthy choices. Each day of the week will highlight ways to increase the number of Americans who are healthy at every stage of life through individual and community-level actions.

Health is more than merely the absence of disease. It is physical, mental and social well-being. Lifelong health starts not when a health problem arises but through prevention. Prevention promotes the ability to remain active, independent and involved in one's community as we age. 

Currently, Americans are living 78 years on average, but only 69 of these years are spent in good health, making it important to invest in prevention to complement existing health systems and treatment options. Despite providing some of the world's best health care, the United States still ranks below many countries in life expectancy, infant mortality and many other indicator of healthy life. 

In communities across the country, we are seeing more people change the way they care for their health by restricting tobacco use, eating healthier, becoming more physically active and avoiding distracted driving.  Collectively, we must continue to take steps to improve our health and the health of our loved ones. The future of our nation's health depends on a properly equipped public health infrastructure in cities and towns across the country. Join the movement to educate Americans about what we can do to live healthier lives.

-Reprinted from the National Public Health Week website, www.npwh.org