Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The winning team

Are you ready for battle?

Because today's public health leaders are carving away at some of today’s greatest health risks. In fact, when we approach it from a winnable battles framework, anything is possible.

That was the focus of this morning's session on "Winnable Battles," a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention initiative addressing 10 key public health topics, including food safety, HIV, motor vehicle injuries, nutrition and obesity, teen pregnancy and tobacco. The topics were chosen based on the magnitude of these health problems across the United States.

Session presenter Thomas R. Frieden, director of CDC, discussed progress on the Winnable Battles front and called on attendees to avail themselves of all available resources to help improve health outcomes and reduce health disparities. Frieden emphasized that although we’re facing significant public health challenges today, there has been considerable progress in recent years, such as increased life expectancy and, in some states, improved air quality. For instance, the Million Hearts program is just one example of CDC-led efforts to work across federal agencies as well as with private and nonprofit partners to reduce heart attacks and stroke. Frieden said he is confident the program will meet its ambitious goal of preventing 1 million heart attacks and strokes over the next five years.

John Auerbach, public health commissioner in Massachusetts, described how CDC’s Winnable Battles campaign has helped states focus their program efforts toward changes that have a wide impact, but cost little.

For example, in Oregon, the Multnomah County Health Department is developing and implementing strategies to address nutrition-related health risks and developed a countywide action plan to improve health. Aurbach explained that health departments are successfully engaging with policy and other decision-makers, as “Winnable Battles is a non-partisan issue, and everyone can be involved.”

Frieden called attendees to action with a quote from President Franklin Roosevelt: “There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still.”

Click here for more info on CDC's Winnable Battles initiative.

— M.S.

Above, CDC Director Thomas Frieden smiles at a Wednesday morning Annual Meeting session. Photo courtesy Jim Ezell/EZ Event Photography

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