Oregon Department of Human Services Director's Message
April 3, 2009 DHS Director's messages on the web
To: All DHS employees
From: Bruce Goldberg, M.D., director
Prevention is better than cure
"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest her or his patients in the care of the human frame, in a proper diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease."
~Thomas A. Edison
As a doctor, I know first hand how much more beneficial it is to prevent an illness than to have it occur and then cure it.

Next week, our Public Health Division is joining national Public Health Week in a series of events that focus on how to promote health and prevent illness and keep the root-cause conditions like obesity from occurring in the first place. There will be events and speakers that address how we can create a community that focuses on prevention as being both healthy and cost effective. For the full list of events click here.

And if you are in Salem Monday I hope you will consider spending your lunch hour doing the "State Walk for the Public's Health" with state Sen. Ginny Burdick, Mel Kohn, M.D., our public health director, and other dignitaries. They are meeting at noon on the Capitol steps and hope to see you there.

I'm pleased the Public Health Division will be in the public eye this next week. The work they do is so important in protecting and promoting health for everyone in the state. Everybody who goes to a restaurant, gets a vaccination, drinks water from a tap or needs the services of an emergency medical technician relies on the Public Health Division's work to remain free from illness and disability. For a complete overview of the great work they do click here to see the Public Health Division's presentation at Ways and Means.

And while everyone will recognize that good health has a value in and of itself, there's also an essential connection between good health and our most fundamental public policy goals - economic development, education and health care reform. You need healthy workers to have economic development and health is fundamental to an individual's ability to pursue opportunity, employment and personal growth. An effective education system relies on healthy kids who can pay attention in class and participate in their own educations. And efforts to reform our health care system won't be sustainable if they do not focus on health and we don't address the major drivers of the need for medical care such as the food we eat, our lack of physical activity, smoking and environmental toxins.

This is what our public health system is focused on: promoting health in our communities.

Public health efforts are especially good investments during an economic downturn when we can least afford illness and injury. We also want to position ourselves so that when the situation improves we can move forward boldly, rather than being held back by new health burdens that could have been avoided.

The investment we make today in public health - in the health of the public - will pay off tomorrow in a healthier Oregon and reduced health care costs for us all.

DHS on the web