Thursday I took new Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary Dennis Smith to task for holding back a joint Milwaukee-Madison disease prevention federal grant application.
The two-city program would have focused on reducing the economic and personal impact of chronic diseases in Wisconsin caused by smoking, over-eating and other factors.
Smith complained that his Department was already doing all that "stuff," but just last year, the DHS published data and analysis - - which I cited - - about the extent of chronic disease in Wisconsin and the value of illness prevention, management practices and longer-term coordinated financial strategies - - at which the canceled grant was aimed.
At another DHS site, we can see that Department goals are going to suffer, along with a lot of people in the state that Smith has called home for all of six months.
We need state policies that bring about disease prevention, not disease progression.
From the web site (read the entire pdf-formatted report, as it is short and the language is quite accessible. Bold-facing is in the original text):
The goals of chronic disease prevention and management are to prevent disease occurrence, delay the onset of disease and disability, lessen the severity of disease, and improve the health- related quality and duration of the individual's life...
Currently, seven of the 10 leading causes of death in Wisconsin and the United States as a whole are due to chronic diseases, accounting for approximately 2 out of every 3 deaths annually (McKenna and Collins, 2010; Wisconsin Interactive Statistics on Health, 2009).
In addition, over 80 percent of the $2 trillion spent on health care in the United States each year goes toward treatment of chronic diseases (McKenna and Collins, 2010). A significant portion of this care is publicly funded...
Four modifiable health risk behaviors— unhealthy diet, insufficient physical activity, tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure, and excessive alcohol use — are responsible for much of the illness, suffering, and early death related to chronic diseases. There are proven, evidence- based strategies that can be used to combat chronic diseases, and when the focus turns to addressing those four modifiable risk factors, a reduction in the number of people living with and dying from chronic diseases in Wisconsin can be expected...
Objective 1 By 2020, increase sustainable funding and capacity for chronic disease prevention and management programs that reduce morbidity and mortality.
Objective 1 Rationale
Chronic diseases create a huge burden on Wisconsin in both human and economic costs. These diseases are largely preventable.
It has been proven that investment in evidence-based interventions to target risk factors, such as unhealthy diet, insufficient physical activity, tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure, and excessive alcohol use, can have a significant return on investment.
Furthermore, by supporting the use of evidence-based chronic disease management and disease self-management programs, the impact of chronic diseases on the overall health of state residents dealing with one or more chronic diseases can be limited. This would lead to decreased disease and death and greatly decrease costs to the medical system...
Objective 2 By 2020, increase access to high-quality, culturally competent, individualized chronic disease management among disparately affected populations of differing races, ethnicities, sexual identities and orientations, gender identities, and educational or economic status.
Objective 3 By 2020, reduce the disparities in chronic disease experienced among populations of differing races, ethnicities, sexual identities and orientations, gender identities, and educational or economic status...I doubt the data have changed.
What has changed is the ideological direction and political leadership of the Department and its disconnect from grassroots organizations and needs - - and that does not bode well for disease prevention in the state and the costs to people, families and public budgets here.