Health Reform Rapid Response: the conversation on prevention
The media shapes our understanding and impacts how we respond to events and issues. Imagine if decision makers only understood community prevention through the media… What would they learn about community prevention? More importantly, what wouldn’t they know about community prevention? Thus, it is critical to leverage the media’s influence effectively and inform our decision makers of the values of community prevention. If media coverage of issues impacting health, equity, and safety are inaccurate or non-existent, it is up to all of us to speak up.
To complement your legislative outreach efforts over the August recess, we are asking you to be proactive, partner, reach out, and respond to media coverage of community prevention in order to elevate your community successes.
What does success look like?
- The Chicago Tribune published a great letter to the editor, “Government and the obesity fight,” that positively reframes the role of government in public health: “The issue is not what government is going to ‘get us to do.’ It is what government will help us be able to do. People cannot make good choices unless good choices are available to them and they understand why they should make those good choices… That's not a ‘nanny state.’ That's government doing what it's supposed to do.” (emphasis added).
- Public Health – Seattle & King County issued a press release last week with effective framing of their work. Notably, the release emphasizes community prevention’s strong evidence base, while making an economic case for prevention: “We know from research and experience that creating healthy places to live, work, learn and play will save lives. It will also save money from health care and other expenses, such as lost productivity.”
- An older press release from The California Endowment also frames community prevention efforts very effectively: “The bottom line is that prevention works. Communities across our state should remember that lesson as they search for ways to improve the health of their residents and implement federal grant programs just now coming online…”
Tips to guide your conversation
Here are some of the messages that we need to share with legislators and media alike, with accompanying talking points:
- Community prevention is evidence-based.
- Prevention is based on decades of solid science. We all deserve to be healthy, and we are proud of the communities across the countries that are already showing results and building health through community prevention.
- Experience and research show that building health in the places people live, work and play saves lives and money. Federal prevention dollars support strategies that have been field tested.
- We need to expand what is already working across the country so that everyone can enjoy health and prosperity. We can’t afford not to invest in what works.
- Community prevention is local.
- Our communities know what’s wrong, and when we work together, we can make it right. The good news is we can fix many of the health problems we face, and prevent other problems from starting. When we work together—our public health department, cities, schools, businesses, and community-based organizations—we can overcome even the most tenacious problems. We have skilled, creative and dedicated people who can make our region the best it can be.
- Prevention is good for business.
- Community prevention is building our neighborhood infrastructure and the local economy; bike paths, pedestrian walkways and smart public transit make it easier and faster to shop at local businesses. Local business owners are getting equipment upgrades and publicity for their stores and products.
- A healthy community, where people can access healthy foods and safe places to be physically active, is good for business. Businesses spend $73 billion dollars a year on chronic diseases that these kinds of efforts can prevent. Our local businesses are going to save money on healthcare costs, lost work days and medical claims when their workforce is healthier.
- Government has a role in public health.
- From child safety seats to taking the lead out of paint, our government has a long, proud history of protecting the health of our children, families and communities. Today, in our community, we want children and parents to take for granted that the places they live, work, play, and learn are going to support them in healthy eating, tobacco-free environments and physical activity—not make it harder.
- The American people want prevention.
- 73% of the public support resources that go to community prevention initiatives. Even when community prevention efforts are tied to higher taxes, the majority of the public still favors them.
- Their support is even stronger for the kinds of efforts federal legislation is focused on right now: bringing more fresh fruits and vegetables into our stores, providing healthier lunches for kids, and protecting our communities and children from tobacco. These strategies protect the health of children and families.
What you can do