CDC reports on ‘winnable battles’ to improve Americans’ health
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released the final report on the Winnable Battles program, an effort to make the biggest health impact for the most Americans in the shortest time.
Winnable Battles took on seven threats to U.S. public health where concerted effort with partners could make an immediate impact: tobacco; nutrition, physical activity, and obesity; food safety; healthcare-associated infections; motor vehicle safety; teen pregnancy; and HIV. By recognizing priority strategies, defining clear targets, and working closely with public health partners, CDC made progress in lightening the health burden of the targeted diseases and conditions.
“The Winnable Battles approach is all about accountability, setting ambitious goals, working with a broad group of partners, and holding ourselves to the high standard of rapid health improvement. The past 6 years show that with focus and commitment, we can win battles against the most important health problems Americans face every day,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH.
The project was launched in 2010, when progress on some public health problems, like smoking, had shown signs of stalling. Other health challenges, like teen pregnancy, were already improving. By adopting a new approach with Winnable Battles, CDC could work with partners to jumpstart stalled challenges or accelerate issues that were improving.
There were meaningful reductions seen in tobacco-related harms. Smoking has been the leading cause of preventable death since 2010. Adult cigarette smoking decreased 27% and youth cigarette smoking decreased 45% from 2009 to 2015. Approximately 15% of adults and fewer than 11% of youth currently smoke—10 million fewer Americans than in 2009.
CDC and its partners also realized success in reducing the number of births to teen mothers. Teen birth rates are at historic lows, down 46% since 2007. Results of other battles varied. Although final data are not yet available, CDC expects to meet three of the four goals set to reduce certain types of healthcare-associated infections and to meet the goal to increase the percentage of people who know their HIV status. Less progress was seen in efforts to meet targeted goals in the areas of obesity, food-borne illness, and reducing the number of HIV diagnoses.
Obama signs ANA-supported Cures bill
On December 13, 2016, President Obama signed into law a package of important health policy advancements aimed at encouraging healthcare innovation, improving mental health service coverage, expanding opioid treatment programs, and investing in medical research.
Throughout 2016, ANA advocated strongly for many of the key policies addressed in the package, including:
• 21st Century Cures Act (HR 6), which seeks to make the Food and Drug Administration’s approval process for new drugs more efficient and invests $4.8 billion in new medical research at the National Institutes of Health
• Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (HR 2646) and Mental Health Reform Act (S 2680), which represent comprehensive reforms to mental health programs at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services
• funding for cancer research, notably $1.8 billion for Vice President Joe Biden’s “cancer moonshot” program
• fighting the opioid epidemic—$1 billion over 2 years. ANA worked closely with Congress and the White House during 2016 to pass legislation and secure enough funding to ensure greater access to treatment services.