Thursday, August 19, 2010

Going Dental

By chance, I watched the program Jeopardy on television recently, and perked up when I saw the category Going Absolutely Dental. Here’s one of the ‘answers’

“Gnaw away with these, any of the four anterior teeth in the jaw…”

The question: What are incisors?

If you saw that show and played along at home, the correct question would have earned you $1,000!

How would you have responded to this one? “It ain’t cheap fiction; it’s the inner substance of the tooth containing veins, arteries & nerves.”

Or how about, “AKA gingiva, they are the firm tissues enveloping the necks of the teeth; betcha didn't know teeth had necks, did ya?”

It made me smile that the college contestants in the studio responded correctly.

A simple game of Jeopardy, proving that you never know when knowing about your mouth will come in handy.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A New Chapter for Prevention

You may not know it, but Congress made a historic investment in prevention when it passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

At a time when states are cutting deeply into their public health budgets, Congress set aside $500 million this year (and $2 billion in 2015 and every year after) for the newly established “Prevention and Public Health Fund”, which will support clinical activities as well as community-based prevention initiatives, such as the Education and Outreach Campaign for Preventive Benefits, a planned public-private partnership to raise awareness on preventive care.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of this commitment to prevention. However, it is incumbent upon policymakers and their community partners to use all funding wisely to support the most effective programs possible.

Here are a few tips for creating an effective prevention program that we’ve learned from the last 20 years of prevention in Massachusetts:

1. Effective health promotion efforts begin with the elimination of silos and collaboration across programs, agencies and stakeholders. Programs have to focus on individuals and communities alike and work in concert.

2. Prevention programs cannot rely solely on governmental funding. We need help from the private sector, NGOs and philanthropies as well.

3. Successful health promotion requires the participation of diverse local populations. Everyone needs to be involved.

4. Prevention planning requires up-to-date community-based data. So we can ensure resources are allocated efficiently.

5. Community coalitions cannot run on volunteers alone. Paid staff are necessary for a sustainable program.

As we work to support national health care reform, the public and the health community need to continuously position community-based primary prevention initiatives as a priority. After all, better health does not happen in isolation; it must be woven into the fabric of the community.

We can do better and, with this landmark commitment from the federal government, we will.

Guest blog post by Ralph Fuccillo, President, DentaQuest Foundation