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Monday, November 30, 2015

Health Promotion and Prevention A Priority for Surgeon General

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy

In an interview with USA Today, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said, "The shift we have to make as a country is from one that is predominantly focused on treatment to one that is focused much more on prevention."

These words should be quite familiar to those who have been working to support H.R. 379/ S.1205 The National Nurse Act of 2015 that would designate the Chief Nurse Officer of the U.S. Public Health Service as the National Nurse for Public Health. The mission of the National Nursing Network Organization is to promote, encourage, and support a National Nurse for Public Health and other projects that promote wellness and disease prevention.

The economic burden and human toll related to chronic, preventable conditions, the number of Americans that have poor health literacy, and the continued health disparities that plague our country beckon us to try new approaches and to develop new tools for wellness.  The National Nurse Act of 2015 (S. 1205) (H.R. 379) is proposed not as THE key to improving public health, but rather as a means of maximizing the potential impact that the Chief Nurse Officer of the USPHS can have in prevention efforts and promotion of public health throughout the general population.

More evidence became available last month that beckons all of us to try new strategies that promote health and wellness. The CDC announced that the average American woman now weighs as much as the average American man weighed in 1960. Some other alarming statistics include:

  • More than one-third (35.1 percent) of U.S. adults over the age of 20 are considered obese.
  • 69 percent of American adults over the age of 20 are either overweight or obese.
  • More than 1-in-5 U.S. children between the ages of 12-19 are considered obese.
  • 17.7 percent of kids ages 6-11 weigh in at obesity levels.

"It takes everyone coming on board on this issue", stated First Lady Michelle Obama when discussing America's obesity crisis during her trip to Great Britain in June. Supporters of the National Nurse Act agree. It is time to have a visible Chief Nurse Officer, uniquely and prominently recognized as the National Nurse for Public Health, at the Surgeon General's side encouraging every nurse to take note of the important health promotion messages being generated by the Office of the Surgeon General and CDC. The nurse is the credible, trusted messenger and health promotion and prevention is the cornerstone of every nurse's practice. What better way to transmit the message of ways to live healthier lives than through a nurse?

The National Nursing Network Organization Team—Monday, November 30, 2015  

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