It costs a lot less money to prevent disease than to treat it. Just think about all the serious health problems related to tobacco use and obesity. Placing our focus on keeping people healthier results in less serious illness, fewer deaths and reduced health care spending.
Federal funding from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the Prevention and Public Health Fund, and Health Resources and Services Administration helps local health departments operate programs that reduce smoking and obesity, provide screenings for moms and newborns, provide immunizations and help communities prepare for disasters and disease outbreaks.
Yet Congress has cut CDC’s budget by more than 10 percent since 2010 and HRSA’s budget by more than 21 percent over the same period. It has not fully funded the Prevention Fund.
While Montana has made progress in public health, significantly reducing the number of deaths here from cardiovascular disease, we stand to benefit by addressing other public health issues.
We have the fourth-lowest immunization rate for children ages 19 to 35 months and we rank 10th in the nation for binge drinking. Rates of obesity among Native Americans here also are high.
We will only make progress in improving public health and saving lives and money if our members of Congress fully fund public health programs. Please join me in calling on them to do so.
Jan Parmelee, Northwest region director, Montana Public Health Association, Trout Creek