Last month a very important research report was published: An Unhealthy America: The Economic Burden of Chronic Disease -- Charting a New Course to Save Lives and Increase Productivity and Economic Growth authored by Ross DeVol and Arment Bedroussian from the Milken Institute.
This report reviews in depth the crippling financial impact of chronic disease on our nation's economy both in treatment and in lost worker productivity and makes predictions for the future taking into account the most common chronic diseases- cancer (broken into several types), diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, pulmonary conditions and mental disorders. More than 109 million Americans report having at least one of the seven diseases, for a total of 162 million cases. The total impact of these diseases on the economy is $1.3 trillion annually.
Many in the public health arena are working diligently to turn these numbers around. There are several strategies that deserve further examination to improve the health of Americans. Nurses themselves are proposing one innovative concept. A grassroots movement supported by a growing number of our nation's nurses is calling for Congress to establish of an Office of the National Nurse. By designating the Chief Nurse Officer of the USPHS to officially become the country's National Nurse, Congress will provide an impetus for promoting the Medical Reserve Corps through which volunteer nurses and other health workers within each community will be sanctioned to deliver and reinforce messages of prevention in their own home towns.
It is likely that developing this "Prevention Promotion" network of volunteers could have a huge impact on reduction of preventable disease. Nurses exist in all communities; they are repeatedly selected as the profession the public trusts most. And nurses already have the skills, knowledge and science based "know how" to promote healthier behaviors. This strategy, which would help shift our nation to focus on prevention, has potential for tremendous positive impact. Couple that with the fact it would not require vast funding or resources, leads many nurses to become enthusiastic and say it is certainly deserving of strong consideration and support.
More information about this study can be found at chronicdiseaseimpact.com
The National Nursing Network Organization Team—Tuesday, November 06, 2007