Building Healthy Communities
Congress must start thinking about health beyond health care. The pending legislation offers a real opportunity at revitalizing the health of millions of Americans -- not just tweaking an outdated and under-performing health-care industry.
We can no longer afford to have a "sickness-driven" view of our health. We must create healthier communities -- places with easy access to fresh food, parks, safe streets, and clean air -- to help all Americans live healthier, longer lives and reduce health-care costs while we're at it.
Low-income communities and communities of color suffer disproportionately from health problems associated with their "built environment," such as asthma, obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Without safe and clean parks, their physical activity is limited. Without clean air in their homes, schools and neighborhoods, children are much more likely to suffer from asthma.
Better, more accessible, more affordable health care is, of course, vital to making America healthier. But a strong focus on community-level wellness and prevention measures can have an enormous impact on reducing the underlying health risks we all face. Congress must start addressing the health of Americans from the moment they walk out their front doors -- not just through the doors of a doctor's office, hospital or clinic.
Angela Glover Blackwell
June 6, 2009; 7:23 AM ET
Health Care Reform
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