Together We Can Build a Healthier Nation: America’s Plan for Health and Wellness

By Emilia Dunham

Program Associate, reporting on the HHS National Prevention Strategy Announcement  Webcast

You may know that as health and LGBT advocates we are particularly pleased with the National Prevention Strategy. It’s inclusive of LGBT people, has a tremendous focus on tobacco and wellness, and is a collaborative effort of 17 government departments. Coordinated strategies for prevention could be a real game changer for LGBT health in the future. We’re also proud for our part in asking for LGBT inclusion in the National Prevention Strategy, and this strategy will borrow from Healthy People 2020, which is also LGBT-inclusive that we also advocated for.

Thursday June 16, 2011 | 11:00 am ET

HHS Secretary Sebelius & U.S. Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin join other administration officials to unveil the first ever National Prevention Strategy. The National Prevention Strategy, called for under the Affordable Care Act, outlines the ways that public and private partners can help Americans stay healthy and fit and improve our nation’s prosperity. Learn more about the release of the National Prevention Strategy and Read the Strategy.

Report out

The idea of this strategy is to prevent health issues, encourage wellness and improving access to care. Ultimately putting money into prevention will reduce cost on treatment, but this is really about saving lives more than anything.

HHS Secretary Sebelius discussed new strides the current administration has made with tobacco control. With removing words on cigarette packs (“light”, “mild”, “low”), promoting warning labels with graphic images, more limitations on tobacco ads, and with ACA free tobacco cessation is included. In fact the first listed priority of the Strategy is tobacco free-living.

States, public AND private sectors are committed to making changes to health and wellness, cooperating with this strategy with involvement with community organizations. For us this could mean widespread influence across all different fields of health to follow the inclusive measures of this health plan by paying attention to LGBT health.

Another major focus is on youth as it’s shown that many health problems, especially addiction and substance abuse can be avoided if a person avoids it before age 21.

Now the plan is kicking off!

This strategy will focus on Policies, Programs and Partnerships to make this change which is something most of us have known. Additionally wellness and prevention are integrated to effectively address our nation’s health in a way never before.

On the call, there was encouragement for special outreach to states and community. For some, the jargon and work of the government may not always reach them, which I think the LGBT community is very familiar with

Lastly, this plan will take significant effort and steps to address health disparities and understanding to reasons for these disparities in order to alleviate them. Still, HHS highlights there are challenges for addressing health disparities, so it’s important to keep up important work let’s hope the follow-through of this strategy will include us in the ways we need.

Published by Emilia Dunham, MPP, MBA

Emilia Dunham is currently a Project Manager at MassHealth/Department of Public Health, and formerly the Project Manager of the Life Skills project at The Fenway Institute, an HIV intervention study for young transgender women. Emilia worked at Fenway for 7 years, first as a Quality Control and Regulatory Assistant mainly involved with biomedical HIV prevention trials, before serving as the Program Associate for The Network for LGBT Health Equity, a network instrumental in many national LGBT health policy improvements. She is also involved with the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, serving as a Steering Committee member and the Policy Committee Co-Chair, an organization largely responsible for the recent passage of the Trans Rights Bill. Additionally she serves as a member of the Massachusetts Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth, Co-Chair of the Recommendations Committee. Emilia received a Bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University. There she served as President of the LGBTQ student group where she planned programs such as Pride Week, Transgender Day of Remembrance, and AIDS Week. In addition, she advocated for LGBTQ inclusive policies and programming on campus such as a Gender Neutral Housing program, an LGBTQ Center and the expansion of Women’s Studies to Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Emilia recently earned a Master of Public Policy and Master of Business Administration in health policy and management from the Brandeis Heller School School for Social Policy and Management.

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