HHS Strategic Plan, Fiscal Years 2007–2012 (Strategic Plan). Chapter 3: Strategic Goal 2: Public Health Promotion and Protection, Disease Prevention, and Emergency Preparedness

09/19/2007

Prevent and control disease, injury, illness, and disability across the lifespan, and protect the public from infectious, occupational, environmental, and terrorist threats.

Text Box: STRATEGIC GOAL 2:  PUBLIC HEALTH PROMOTION AND PROTECTION, DISEASE PREVENTION, AND EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESSStrategic Objective 2.1:  Prevent the spread of infectious diseases.Strategic Objective 2.2:Protect the public against injuries and environmental threats.Strategic Objective 2.3:Promote and encourage preventive health care, including mental health, lifelong healthy behaviors, and recovery.Strategic Objective 2.4:Prepare for and respond to natural and manmade disasters.	  Throughout the 20th century, advances in public health and medicine resulted in reduced morbidity and mortality from infectious diseases, including influenza, polio, and foodborne and waterborne illnesses. Chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes, replaced infectious diseases as the major cause of illness and death in the United States in the latter part of the 20th century. In the new millennium, the Nation continues to face the challenge of chronic disease because of unhealthy and risky behaviors, environmental exposures, and an aging population.

Today, chronic diseases continue to be significant health problems that face Americans. As HHS works to address these health issues, infectious diseases have reemerged as a priority for public health in the United States. For example, risky behaviors such as unprotected sex and injecting drug use continue to result in new HIV/AIDS infections. At the end of 2003, an estimated 1,039,000 to 1,185,000 persons in the United States were living with HIV/AIDS.xvii According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 40,000 persons are infected with HIV each year. Injecting drug use is also a common current risk factor for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. About 30,000 Americans are infected with HCV each year, and about 3 million are chronically infected with this virus, which is a leading indication for liver transplants and hastens the progression of HIV in those who are coinfected.

Foodborne diseases cause an estimated 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths in the United States each year. Other known pathogens account for an estimated 14 million illnesses, 60,000 hospitalizations, and 1,800 deaths annually.xviii Morbidity and mortality from injuries and environmental hazard exposures also continue to affect the health and well-being of Americans.

Over the past century, public health advances in drinking water, wastewater, and recreational water quality have dramatically improved the health of the American people. However, drinking water from public water systems causes an estimated 4 to 16 million cases of gastrointestinal illness per year. During 2003–2004, 62 waterborne disease outbreaks associated with recreational water were reported by 26 States and Guam. Illness occurred in 2,698 persons, resulting in 58 hospitalizations and 1 death.xix

Although malaria is technically preventable and curable if recognized and treated promptly, it remains one of the world’s greatest threats to human health and economic welfare. Each year, malaria kills more than 1 million people—the majority, young children in Africa. In a retrospective analysis, it has been estimated that economic growth per year of countries with intensive malaria was 1.3 percent lower than that of countries without malaria.xx

The 21st century is also marked by the threat of public health emergencies. These threats have become a significant focus for public health at the Federal, State, and local levels. Public health threats and emergencies can ensue from myriad causes—bioterrorism; natural epidemics of infectious disease; terrorist acts that involve conventional explosives, toxic chemicals, or radiological or nuclear devices; industrial or transportation accidents; and climatological catastrophes.

Strategic Goal 2, Public Health Promotion and Protection, Disease Prevention, and Emergency Preparedness, seeks to address these problems. There are four broad objectives under Public Health:

  • Prevent the spread of infectious diseases;
  • Protect the public against injuries and environmental threats;
  • Promote and encourage preventive health care, including mental health, lifelong health behaviors, and recovery; and
  • Prepare for and respond to natural and manmade disasters.

HHS is positioned to address the public health problems of infectious diseases, injuries and environmental hazards, chronic diseases and behavioral health problems, and public health emergencies through a comprehensive set of strategies. HHS provides leadership on these health issues within the Federal Government and collaborates with numerous partners across the Federal Government to achieve these objectives. These partners include the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security and Defense for public health emergency preparedness; the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Labor for environmental and occupational health issues; and the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Commerce, and EPA, for food safety.

Within HHS, multiple operating and staff divisions work together to develop and implement strategies to achieve the goal of preventing and controlling disease, injury, illness, and disability across the lifespan and of protecting the public from infectious, occupational, environmental, and terrorist threats. Key operating and staff divisions that contribute to this goal include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In addition, HHS’s Administration on Aging (AoA), Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Office for Civil Rights (OCR), Office on Disability (OD), Office of Global Health Affairs (OGHA), and Office of Public Health and Science (OPHS) play important roles in addressing this goal.

Below is a description of each strategic objective, followed by a description of the key programs, services, and initiatives the Department is undertaking to accomplish those objectives. Key partners and collaborative efforts are included under each relevant objective. The performance indicators selected for this strategic goal are also presented with baselines and targets. These measures are organized by objective. Finally, this chapter discusses the major external factors that will influence HHS’s ability to achieve these objectives, and how the Department is working to mitigate those factors.

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