Investing In Healthy People Can Help Create A Healthy Economy

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In anticipation of President Bush's final State of the Union address this evening, the American Public Health Association (APHA) today outlines measures that should be undertaken this year to protect our nation's health in light of the significant challenges posed by an unstable economy, the growing health care crisis and very real public health consequences of climate change.

APHA calls on the president and Congress to:

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-- Increase access to health care. APHA urges the administration to work to ensure that each individual has access to quality and affordable health care. APHA calls on the administration to reverse course and strengthen Medicare, Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program, as well as make a commitment to providing comprehensive coverage for the 47 million Americans who lack health insurance.

-- Strengthen vital public health agencies and programs. APHA calls for our leaders to continue our wise investments in public health agencies and programs that keep our communities safe and enable our health security by: ensuring our water is safe to drink, our food is safe to eat and our air is safe to breathe, and protecting us from unsafe consumer products. These agencies and programs serve as a safety net against a range of public health threats from poor nutrition to emerging infectious diseases that can become worse during difficult economic times.

-- Commit to addressing sound environmental policies to protect the health of Americans and their communities. We urge the administration to join scientists and leaders around the world in recognizing the threat that climate change poses to our nation's health. The United States needs to invest now in appropriate mitigation and adaptation strategies and ensure that the nation's public health infrastructure is prepared to address the health effects of climate change. The administration should also support the ongoing congressional effort to update U.S. farm policies to help reduce childhood obesity, improve access to nutritious foods and support locally produced foods, which better supports farmers and their communities.

"The economic returns on these investments are potentially enormous," said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E), executive director of APHA. "Through sound implementation of these principles, public health can be part of the solution to our economic, health security and climate crises. We urge the administration and Congress to work together in a bipartisan fashion to meet these challenges."

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