AVMA joins Healthy People 2010

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This month, at a major conference in Washington, DC, when the Department of Health and Human Services announces its goals for improving the nation's health over the next decade, the AVMA will join with numerous health professionals, government agencies, and academic and research institutions in attempting to make those goals reality.

Healthy People is the "prevention agenda" for the American public. Started in 1979 by the Surgeon General and updated every 10 years, the initiative focuses public and private sector attention on the most serious, preventable threats to human health.

Healthy People is based on scientific knowledge and uses a diverse spectrum of participating groups working together to meet the health objectives.

More than two years in the making, the goals for Healthy People 2010 will be launched during the Partnerships for Health in the New Millennium Conference, to be held Jan 24-28. The program will focus on four themes: Partnering for Health Improvements, Eliminating Health Disparities, Increasing Quality and Years of Healthy Life, and Harnessing Technology for Health.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the USDA-FSIS are among the federal agencies working with state and local health departments and others on the health goals.

To be featured at the conference are two posters from the AVMA concerning the veterinarian's role as a partner for health and dog bite prevention. The AVMA's participation will be further heightened by the attendance of a member of the Committee on Wellness.

At its Nov 20-21 meeting, the Executive Board approved a recommendation from the committee that one of its members attend the conference. Dr. Charles Hendrix, who has overseen the committee's activities in regard to Healthy People 2010, was named as the representative.

The board overwhelmingly agreed about the importance of Healthy People to public health, and the AVMA's participation. Board chairman, Dr. Leonard M. Tinney called the conference a "singular opportunity" for the Association to speak with other health organizations.

The conference is expected to draw more than 1,200 participants with backgrounds in public health, health care, technology companies, health care consumers, and faith and advocacy organizations. Health secretary Donna Shalala and Surgeon General David Satcher, MD, will also attend.

Nearly all states have their own Healthy People plans, tailored to their own needs, but based partly on the national objectives. Healthy People 2010 is the United States' contribution to the World Health Organization's "Health for All" strategy.