HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Nearly 60 percent of people in Connecticut deal with one or more chronic disease — illnesses such as asthma, cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
The Connecticut Department of Public Health has a plan to fight this burden of chronic diseases. The key to a healthy state is preventing and managing these diseases which in turn impacts the cost of health care.
“That’s why we also need to come together to advance change to the systems and environments which determine the way we can move through life and live,” said commissioner Dr. Jewel Mullen
The Connecticut Department of Public Health is coordinating a five-year plan that identifies 12 priority areas, such as nutrition, physical activity, obesity, heart health and cancer. Cost-cutting measures are also part of the process.
“$2.4 billion of our state budget goes towards Medicaid,” said state Rep. Theresa Convoy. “If we can start looking at ways that we can streamline that, if we have chronic disease management when we are taking care of things — as simple as blood pressure with a very generic medication that’s not leading down the road to blindness and dialysis … ”
Early detection plays a big role in a healthier population and decreasing the bottom line. But there are challenges.
“Prevention is by far the most effective but least funded of all of what we do for health in this country,” public health advocate Pat Checko said.
There are three basic strategies in the next five years promoting healthy and supporting and reinforcing healthful behaviors like school wellness policies, ensuring we get the highest standard preventive care like cancer screenings, and targeting community based services.