Supporting Health Promotion and Prevention
It is nice to be here in Indianapolis, a community that has been fluoridated since 1951, and in Indiana, which is fifth in the country in the percentage of people on public water supplies that are fluoridated – 96 percent of the public water supplies here in Indiana are fluoridated.
When I think of prevention, I’m reminded that Redd Foxx used to say, “The last thing I would want to do in my life is to be lying in the hospital bed dying of nothing.” If we can prevent premature death, disease, and disability, using all of the preventive measures that we know we have, we could make quite a great impact.
During my presidential year, we started working on a sense-of-the-Congress resolution. In developing that resolution, the Executive Board went from a foggy idea of what we wanted in a national health program to articulating community-based
prevention. Since that time, APHA has built on that as have many of the federal agencies. Community-based prevention is where we are most effective as public health workers – whether we are dealing with policy or prevention.
It is very bothersome to me that we spend more money than any other country and we do not have a national prevention program. We do not have a national health education program in all our schools for children from kindergarten to the 12th grade. Our kids are not able to make healthy choices. In 1979, Dr. Julius Richmond, then Surgeon General, promulgated the Healthy People document for the 1990 national health objectives. Before that, we had a meeting at the Institute of Medicine with Dr. Michael McGinnis and Dr. Richmond to try and shake out these concepts. APHA was deeply involved in the beginning and, during my presidential year, the Annual Meeting theme was The Year 2000 National Prevention Objectives for the Nation. We have to make prevention a national priority again.
We are in Indiana, so I will quote Vice-President Dan Quayle, who is from Indiana: “If we don’t succeed, we will fail.” We, as an association, must provide leadership so that the 25 percent of our population, who are children, are really 100 percent of the future.