Photo: National Hispanic Medical Association
Congresswoman Lucille Roybal Allard opened the annual Fall Hispanic health briefing on Capitol Hill calling attention to the fact that the U.S. now spends $2 Trillion for health care expenditures and 75% of these costs are for diseases that could be preventable.
Under the Affordable Care Act, signed by President Obama in March 2010, a new Public Health and Prevention Fund is a turning point to provide needed support for programs in communities, at medical and nursing schools, as well as for doctors’ offices, clinics and hospitals for prevention of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and cancer. The purpose of the briefing was to discuss how to decrease costs of health care among Hispanic communities with policies to address diabetes, obesity and physical exercise.
According to Dr. Elena Rios, president of the NHMA, “Prevention practices can be aligned with Hispanic families who care for each other’s well-being – especially the children or chronically ill elder in the home, and decrease the high costs of health care if we focus on changing where we live.” The NHMA is a partner with the First Lady’s Let’s Move Campaign and the Kellogg Foundation on child obesity and most recently was on stage with the CDC Director and the National Immunization Foundation for this year’s flu season.
Dr. Eduardo Sanchez, medical officer of Texas BlueCross discussed the diabetes self management program partnership with the Texas Medical Association in San Antonio. He shared the statistics that prevention programs for workers have led to increased days at work and productivity and there is a trend to build more at work programs.
Mary Beth Bigley from the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office described the new national prevention strategy of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that includes, for the first time in this country’s history, 17 federal agencies working to support programs and jobs that focus on disease prevention and health education - in schools and school lunch and WIC and SNAP food programs, parks and walking paths, environmental health, in clinics, hospitals and medical schools, and with the worksites, military and veterans programs and more.
The University of Southern California Center of Excellence on Obesity research focuses on the need for understanding of causes of our obesity epidemic such as the lack of maternal nutrition education to breastfeed and limit sugar with infants. Also a focus of the Los Angeles based research are Latino children use of cell phones at a 98% rate and families at 78% rate which calls for increased e-health communication for prevention.
Pfizer Helpful Answers program was an example of another level of prevention, since preventing the complications of diabetes and heart disease is now a reality for poor people who qualify for the program’s discount medications.
Established in 1994 in Washington, D.C., the National Hispanic Medical Association is a nonprofit association representing Hispanic physicians.