Provide more clarity about meaning of “environmentally-related disease prevention” and how it relates to the national healthcare debate and cost savings. Develop elements of an action plan (e.g., policy, tools, outreach and education suggestions) for preventing environmental health impacts (e.g., mortality/morbidity and associated healthcare costs).
The decades-long debate on providing healthcare for citizens of the United States has been primarily restricted to the medical and public health communities and informed by research provided by scientists trained in those areas. Mostly overlooked is the recognition that pollutants and other environmental insults can contribute to impaired health/health disparities seen in individuals, populations and communities. Yet, the failure to recognize, diagnose, prevent, and/or reduce such insults, may often lead to substantial healthcare costs and “too late” intervention strategies. It is also true that many agencies (e.g., EPA, HUD, DOT, and USDA) not viewed as “public health” agencies, per se; make decisions that have ramifications for almost all citizens. Thus, environmental policy is health policy: as is also true for transportation, housing, and agricultural policies.
Because of the prominence of the ongoing healthcare debate, there exists a tremendous opportunity to now interject the role of environmental (public) health knowledge, research and policy into the healthcare reform and policy dialogue. This is a critical discussion especially during a game-changing time (a new discourse) that provides an opportunity to link science, policy and the public interests. The current debate is focused on how to better deliver healthcare and who or how it should be paid; what is missing from the debate is how to reduce the costs of healthcare and the role of prevention.
Environmental Protection Agency
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center
Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University
North Carolina State University
Kenan Institute for Engineering, Technology & Science
UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health
UNC School of Medicine
UNC Sheps Center for Health Services Research
North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources
North Carolina Division of Public Health
Research Triangle Foundation of North Carolina
The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences
North Carolina Biotechnology Center
Fleishman Hillard International Communications