Looking Forward: A Message from NACDD’s CEO
Click the image below to read the brand-new 30th Anniversary publication.
There are many reasons to be optimistic about the future that chronic disease prevention and health promotion can create for our country. We also face significant challenges. As our population ages, there is a concerning rise in diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. Fewer people are getting enough exercise than five years ago, and with the current rates of obesity among our youth, many parents may outlive their own children.
We also know that the burden of chronic disease far exceeds what State Health Departments receive to reduce and prevent these illnesses. These state, tribal, and territorial departments require crucial support as Chronic Disease Directors retire and take with them their significant experience and historical perspective.
Yet, we also are working in an age where data is more easily shared across organizations and systems, and where it can inform real-time program changes to improve impact and outcomes. Young professionals in the United States increasingly are becoming engaged with public health and seeking out opportunities to devote their careers to improving their own communities. Additionally, non-traditional partners are starting to see the important economic opportunities chronic disease investment can offer, and academia has begun to explore and unpack some of the social, economic, and environmental root causes of chronic disease so they can be systematically and effectively addressed.
One of our leading goals moving forward is to prepare Members to become recognized experts in the field. We have developed competencies for chronic disease prevention professionals that State Health Departments are adopting to help them evaluate and improve on their capacity and capabilities.
And that’s just one example of what we offer through our Association. We want everyone to become aware of the services available through NACDD. By providing tools and resources that enable our Members to make the best evidence-based decisions possible, we gain two key benefits: firstly, they can report back to their state legislators that funds were well spent and leveraged; and secondly, they can give legislators positive outcomes to report back to their constituents, e.g., preventing diabetes or delaying the outset of arthritis. It takes an active community of people to accomplish these ambitions. We also are preparing our Members to become Board Members with us in the future. Accordingly, we are educating and training our Members to think beyond their routine day-to-day work so they can have an even stronger impact on chronic disease in the years ahead.
Our retiring Chronic Disease Directors play a huge role in supporting and acclimating new state and territorial department staff as they join the chronic disease prevention effort. These directors have institutional memory, expertise, and stability that is invaluable to continuing the progress already made in chronic disease prevention and control. Our country needs our Members, from those just starting their careers to those who have retired after decades of distinguished service.
Our loved ones and even our own lives can benefit when our Members develop new programs and approaches that ease preventable suffering. Our economy can save billions of dollars in avoidable healthcare expenditures through the work of our Members to make healthy choices the easy choices. And our communities can be stronger when our Members help them become more active and productive.
We are proud to stand with our Members for these and many more reasons. We are ready and committed to stand for them as we look to the next generation of public health. 7,000 Members and counting, there has never been a time when our nation needed our Members more to promote health and prevent disease.
John W. Robitscher, MPH
National Association of Chronic Disease Directors