HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson today announced Diabetes: A National Plan for Action during a town hall meeting at the National Press Club. This plan is a step-by-step guide to activities and resources against a disease that affects more than 18 million Americans.
“This action plan provides specific steps that everyone can take to fight diabetes,” Secretary Thompson said. “The most effective way to bring this problem under control is for government, business, health care providers, schools, communities and the media, as well as people with diabetes and their families to work together.”
The diabetes action plan focuses on specific, attainable action steps. For instance, goals for individuals include reducing fat consumption, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and getting screened for diabetes. Businesses can provide healthy food in vending machines and cafeterias, and turn some conference space into exercise rooms. Civic groups can create community gardens and install distance markers on sidewalks to encourage walking for health. Government agencies can develop evidence-based strategies to prevent, detect and treat diabetes as well as programs to implement them, such as Medicare coverage for diabetes screening, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2005.
Secretary Thompson convened town hall meetings in Cincinnati, Little Rock and Seattle over the last year to hear how diabetes impacts communities and the steps they are taking to reverse this trend. Individuals with diabetes, health care providers, members of the business community and others provided input that culminated in this action plan.
Secretary Thompson also announced 11 winners of the 2004 Innovation in Prevention Awards, which highlight businesses and organizations that are leading efforts to promote healthy lifestyles in their communities. The awards, part of President Bush’s HealthierUS initiative and Secretary Thompson’s ongoing emphasis on preventive health, recognize organizations in seven categories that have implemented innovative and creative chronic disease health promotion and prevention programs. The awards were first given out in 2003.
“Innovations honorees have been on the forefront of prevention, and provide examples of how good programs work,” Secretary Thompson said. “We are working from coast to coast to build a healthier, stronger America and these efforts start at the local level. To promote healthier lifestyles, we need to reach Americans in the places they work, play and learn.”
Examples of successful programs include a farmer’s market located on Duke University’s campus to make access to healthy food options more conveniently available, a collaboration between UAW and Daimler Chrysler and General Motors to offer health risk assessments and biometric screenings free of charge and an initiative to educate Latino audiences about cancer prevention via radio and TV shows in the Washington, DC area.