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The Ambitious Healthy Nation Partnership: The Concept Paper from the Bravewell-IOM-AARP Founders PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Weeks   
Wednesday, 30 December 2009

The Ambitious Healthy Nation Partnership: The Concept Paper from the Bravewell-IOM-AARP Founders

Summary: The Healthy Nation Partnership is conceived as "a network of public and private organizations working together to improve the health of all Americans by transforming the way we understand, value, and practice health and wellbeing." The potent founding partners - the Bravewell Collaborative of philanthropists, the IOM and the AARP - envision this as a "national movement for health and wellbeing." The first two organizations first united to promote the role of integrative medicine in the health of the public. This stage is larger. Here is the trio's short concept paper. Is this the network in which integrative ideas practices will flourish? Is this a direction you and your organization wish to support? This entity is a hopeful portent for coming year(s).

Send your comments to

for inclusion in a future Integrator.

Image
The organizing force behind the partnership
This Healthy Nation Partnership, organized principally by the Bravewell Collaborative, could be the birth of the critically-needed, connective force for transforming the U.S. toward a health and wellness society. The potential in the trio of founding partners - Bravewell plus the Institute of Medicine (IOM) plus the 40-million member AARP - stimulates hope.

For kick-starting the initiative, credit integrative medicine and the complementary and alternative healthcare professions and practices out of which integrative medicine grew. As noted below, the Healthy Nation Partnership began as a by-product of the February 25-27, 2009 National Summit on Integrative Medicine and the Health of the Public, sponsored by Bravewell and the IOM. Time will tell to what extent the CAM/IM will seek engagement, and be accepted, as partners.

Below is the preliminary concept paper, made available through Bravewell. (The point people and founding executive committee for the Partnership are Christy Mack, president, Bravewell; Judith Salerno, MD, Executive Officer, IOM; and Georgetown University professor Bill Novelli, former CEO, AARP.) I then offer a couple comments.

The founders tender this invitation to other potential organizational participants:
"If you have an interest please send us an email ( ) telling us about your organization, its leadership and how the leadership might contribute." This may be a health-creating bandwagon which can eventually have sufficient bandwidth to make a huge difference. Take a look.

_______________________________

The Healthy Nation Partnership Concept Paper

A National Movement for Health and Wellbeing

Image
The brains and brand to go with the bucks and the bandwidth of the others
WHO WE ARE

The Healthy Nation Partnership is a network of public and private organizations working together to improve the health of all Americans by transforming the way we understand, value, and practice health and wellbeing.

WHY WE ARE TOGETHER
We are committed to ensuring our nation’s future prosperity by creating a culture of health and wellbeing in America. We believe our investment in health is an investment in the strength of the nation.

HOW WE WORK
To be successful, we must transform the environment in which we live, work and play. Through engaging leadership and change agents from all sectors of society, The Healthy Nation Partnership elicits support and coordinates ideas, strategies and programs to help advance the health and wellbeing of all Americans.

Image
40-million members and a force on the Hill
OUR VISION OF HEALTH

Health is much more than the absence of disease. Being healthy means wellness in body, mind and spirit in connection with our communities. Health allows for a vital state of engagement with life regardless of the conditions we may be experiencing.

WHY NOW
Americans pay more for health care than the citizens of any other nation, with costs rising every year, yet we experience more disease and our expected lifespan is years shorter than residents of many other countries. The problem is not our lack of medical expertise; it lies within our core approach to health and the very way in which we live. American health care does not help people become or stay healthy, and our society does not successfully encourage healthy behaviors.

Seven of the most common chronic diseases—cancer, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, pulmonary conditions, and mental disorders—may be linked to behavioral and/or environmental risk factors. Evidence is accumulating that many of the conditions can be avoided altogether if people make better choices about eating nutritious food, adopting healthy habits (non-smoking, etc.), building healthy relationships, living and working in less toxic environments, engaging in stress reduction, staying fit, and being purposefully engaged in life.

We all have a personal responsibility to care for our own health. But it takes leadership to create the opportunities for healthy choices. Our Partnership encourages leaders in all sectors of our society to engage in building an environment for good health. In addition, we are working to educate and empower all Americans to advance their own health and wellbeing.


WHAT WE DO
The Healthy Nation Partnership provides a framework for creating a national culture of health and wellbeing by:

  • Heightening awareness about the critical need for change;
  • Educating individuals and organizations about health and wellbeing backed by solid scientific evidence;
  • Offering scientific data, resources, tools and expertise for social change that will create a culture of health and wellbeing;
  • Connecting people and organizations from all sectors of society to one another for the purpose of achieving our common goal;
  • Inspiring organizations, communities and individuals to action; and
  • Identifying and promoting positive efforts and best practices.

Image
Christy Mack: Guiding Bravewell onto ever-larger stages
HOW WE CAME TO BE

In February 2009, with funding from The Bravewell Collaborative, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies convened the “Summit on Integrative Medicine and the Health of the Public.” The largest event of its kind ever convened by the IOM, the Summit provided extensive examination about the many ways individuals can protect and even dramatically improve their own health. As a direct result of the Summit, an initiative emerged for a public/private partnership that would create a national movement to improve the health of the American public by encouraging, empowering and supporting individuals and organizations to make and sustain changes designed to promote health and wellbeing. In keeping with its legacy as convener and catalyst, The Bravewell Collaborative organized several meetings of like-minded institutions and we are now hard at work, building a national effort along with corporations, nonprofits, government and the media.

HOW TO PARTICIPATE
If you have an interest please send us an email ( ) telling us about your organization, its leadership and how the leadership might contribute.
_______________________________
Comment: This initiative is exciting. Backers of a wellness paradigm must aggregate a creative mix of interested parties if the U.S. as a wellness society is to be more than a dream. This means forward-thinking corporations, legions of yoga teachers and massage therapists, public health workers, acupuncturists, public health interests, integrative medical doctors and more. As noted in this column, such a national transformation toward health ultimately involves food, energy, transportation, education, taxing and even military practices. Notably, the most significant wellness language in the Senate version of health reform reflects this necessarily broad platform. 

Credit Bravewell, IOM and AARP for banding together at this auspicious moment to catalyze action. With Bravewell's potential access to philanthropic capital and corporate buy-in, the IOM's brand and the AARP's huge membership, this trio offers an exceptional platform for change. I know I will be checking participation under my other, organization-directing hat. Is this a partnership in which you want to participate?

My reading of the concept paper suggests a couple of areas of interest:

  •    
      The concepts laid out here speak
    to the paradigm-shifting hearts of
    most who have chosen to invest
    themselves in any form of natural
    health or integrative practices.
    Will we step up? 


    Role in advocacy  The Partnership describes itself as both a "network' and a "movement." The former term suggests a good deal less activism than, say, "coalition." The action bullets in the concept paper speak of "educating" and "connecting" and "inspiring" rather than advocating, promoting and (heaven forbid) fighting for change. The concept paper directly references little about policy, yet transformation will clearly require significant public policy action. In short, the concept paper describes a charitable 501c3 organization, rather than a 501c4 lobbying group, as befits the philanthropic base. Yet a 501c3 can influence policy in many ways, including via spending a segment of its resources on lobbying. It will be interesting to see the ways in which the partnership engages policy change. Perhaps the AARP, known for its muscle on the Hill, will assist with that.

  • Challenging business practices  The concept paper speaks not just of personal lifestyle choices but also environmental forces which impact our ability to create a culture of wellness and health. A second significant question regards into what depth the budding partnership will engage the disease-inducing aspects of business-as-usual food, agriculture, workplace, tax and investment practices in order to create a healthy nation. The changes implied by addressing the known determinants of (poor) health are sobering for anyone with a significant stake in current business practices.

Finally, I find myself thinking about what role integrative medicine and integrative healthcare organizations will have in this emerging partnership. The poet Philip Levine probably answered the question with what I paraphrase as what we get is what we bring. The concepts laid out here speak to the paradigm-shifting hearts of most who have chosen to invest themselves in any form of natural health or integrative practices. Will we step up?

Send your comments to
for inclusion in a future Integrator.


Last Updated ( Wednesday, 30 December 2009 )
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