by Scout, Network Director
This week the whole Network staff team and reps from each state are all down in Atlanta, attending The Institute 2010, a training event for people in tobacco and diabetes. We’ve been to one of these a few years ago, but this is the first time it’s combined with diabetes folk too, so this time it’s a joint production of the Tobacco Technical Assistance Consortium (TTAC) and the Diabetes Training and Technical Assistance Center (DTTAC).
So, since we’re all about linking people and information, watch this week as we keep posting info about what we’ve learned in our courses down here.
Just to start us off, we had an introduction by Dr. Ursula Bauer, the head of CDC’s Chronic Disease Center. As we know from some prior meetings, Dr. Friedan, the new head of CDC, is really taking a strong hand in shaping CDC direction now. Dr. Bauer reviewed the 6 “winnable battles” Dr. Friedan has identified as agency priorities:
- tobacco use
- nutrition/physical activity
- teen pregnancy
- iatragenic infections (caused by healthcare)
- motorvehicle injury
Dr. Bauer says, chronic diseases account for nearly 3/4 of the $2 trillion dollars we spend on health care every year. Plus we know nearly every chronic disease is influenced by the 3 pillars of what’s now known informally as “wellness”, that’s tobacco, physical activity, and nutrition. So, right now there’s an increasing emphasis on changing these upstream factors to save some of that cash downstream. That’s right, run that balance sheet and show everyone how doing tobacco control work offers a great return on the healthcare dollar.
As I know we’ve reported before, Dr. Bauer continued to echo the new big emphasis on environmental policy change as a smart strategy for changing the arena. As she aptly noted, an investment in policy change lasts long after the original money is gone. Some of the ones she brought up as smart continue to echo some of the strategies we saw before at the big wellness conference, namely: banning transfats, taxing sugar sweetened beverages, increasing tobacco taxes, bolstering clean air laws, building better walking/biking options. She talked a lot about building structures that support health. As Dr. Bauer says, “Right now our communities are designed for disease. It’s unreasonable to expect people will change behaviors when so many social and cultural factors conspire against them.” (I believe part of that was a quote of B. Smedley).
I know I’m not alone in loving this larger persepective on structures to support health. Every time I’m at a conference on health, I struggle as a vegetarian to even get reasonable food to eat. And last time I was down here at the CDC wellness conference, I was biking on some of the overcongested streets to the local health store and a driver leaned out their window and yelled, “See you in the emergency room!”. Which, considering the 18″ rut that was my bike lane, I thought wasn’t terribly far fetched. So, again, loving this bigger perspective on real health and I for one can’t wait until we all do enough work to see more of those ground level changes. Just even 12 more inches of them!
Watch for more reports from the team about other things we learn at the Institute in the next few days.Best, Scout Director, Network for LGBT Tobacco Control