carrieHow Can We Get to a Healthier America?

By: Carrie Varoquiers In: 2010 Annual Conference

25 Apr 2010

As much as I was hoping for a silver bullet to improve the health status of Americans, not surprisingly there weren’t any earth shattering strategies presented for how we can get America healthy at today’s Council on Foundations Annual Conference session on health care.  As we all know, there is a complex web of factors that need to be addressed in order for us to achieve the health outcomes we seek.  However, the distinguished panel listed below did touch upon a few key themes.

Moderator: Susan Dentzer
Presenters: Kati Haycock- President, Education Trust; David Williams, Professor of African and African American Studies and of Sociology, Harvard University; Derek Yach, SVP, Global Health Policy, PepsiCo; Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder and CEO, PolicyLink

First, Americans should be healthier.  Not only because we spend more on health than other countries and are not keeping pace in our health outcomes, but also for economic reasons.  Professor Williams showed us a slide that said if all Americans had the same health as college educated Americans, the US economy would gain $1 trillion annually.  Can we use the idea of economic gains to spur more people into action?

Second, it seems to all come down to education.  A mother’s education status affects her children’s health status; a child’s education level affects his or her health status, and so on.  Ms. Haycock repeated a bold statement about prioritizing funding for high achieving teachers in low-income communities, rather than funding school-based health clinics in order to best address the health of students.

The main take-away was that health funders need to greatly expand their notion of the types of investments that should be included in their grant portfolios.  Funding high-performing teachers, affordable housing, transportation, job training, education, food policy, urban planning, recreation, and so on, are all critical if we truly hope to achieve a healthy America.

Carrie Varoquiers is the president of the McKesson Foundation.

Comment Form


Welcome to RE: Philanthropy! In this blog, guest and Council bloggers share ideas and insights on the most pressing issues in philanthropy. If you want to contribute, please contact webteam@cof.org.

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Council on Foundations.

Contributors

Jessica Bearman
Regan Gruber Moffitt
Regine A. Webster
Sharna Goldseker
Adrienne Mansanares
Katie Loovis
Dan Hymowitz and Heather Lord
Flozell Daniels Jr.
Conaway B. Haskins III
Roslyn Tam
Margaret Gage
Anthony Tansimore
Chatrane Birbal
William Vesneski
Jorgen Thomsen
Michael L. Batchelor
Deborah Ellwood
MLea Davis
Lance E. Lindblom and Laura Shaffer Campos
Linda J. Philipp
Michael Bzdak
Nichole Baker
Valerie S. Lies
Kim Embretson and Tom McSparron
Andrew Schulz
Daria Teutonico
Diana Doyle
David Abramson
Allison Lugo Knapp
Bruce Trachtenberg and Michael Hamill Remaley
Lyle Matthew Kan
Denise Spencer
Michelle Kalina
Kendace Hall
Jacob Gayle
Robert K. Ross
Jeff Pryor
Nina Smart
Will Heaton
David Matthew
Kevin R. Webb
Jenny Chan
John Tyler
Rachel Leon
Torrey Van Antwerp DeKeyser
Clotilde DeDecker
Joanne Kelley
Susan Price
Rodney McKenzie
Salin Geevarghese