A Call To Revamp General Healthcare Public Policy Subsequent to the Covid-19 Pandemic
Under the broader heading of healthcare policy are the concerns related to general health which includes obesity. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, approximately 17-20%% of the nation’s children present with obesity. This has only increased since the onset of the pandemic conditions (Bracho-Sanchez & Rausch, 2021). The public policy proposed is to begin a program of healthy living habit that focuses on working toward physical wellness, preventative medicine, keeping active, and also learning and using methods to take care of emotional and mental health starting in early youth and keeping it going through resources to aid in this throughout life.
What Public Policy Solution(s) May Alleviate the Public Policy Concerning Issue?
Members of the American Academy of Pediatrics are screening, counseling and treating obesity. But these pediatricians are under no delusions that these efforts alone can turn around this situation (American Academy of Pediatrics, n.d.). It seems that as it is often stated, every appearance of crisis is also a chance for opportunities waiting to be taken. In this instance, perhaps the multiple agencies private and public from local to federal might refocus our healthcare efforts more working towards wellness and preventative measures and away from responsive measures such as the more expensive medications and care that will be required by a less healthy society. This requires a restatement and framing of health values from physical health, nutrition and taking care of our emotional and mental health as well.
What could your local, state, the federal government do?
Local, state, and federal government needs to come together to help with financial issues and housing and food need as well as supporting mental health resources to reduce these stressors while working on the improvement of children’s health. In addition, these resources need to be coordinated toward improving opportunities for safe physical activities. The fact is that many of the parts of this particular puzzle are already in place and simply need to used more fully and wisely to further a culture of awareness, action and fulfillment on the multiple levels of health. Among those already in place working in coordination but to a lesser extent than envisioned are The President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition; the Amateur Athletic Union, the National Fitness Foundation; Interactive Health Technologies; the CDC; and SHAPE America ((PYFT, n.d.). Imagine all the good that could be and would be done if only this once again became a significant part of American culture and way of life? As a child growing up, many lived this tradition in the years past. It has unfortunately be let go along the wayside by far too many and must be brought back.
What could individuals or groups do?
There is no one size fits all answer to how to society begins to reconcile itself to what has been true all along despite the too constant state of denial. Health, healthy choices and wellness begins at the individual level. Yet, as the pediatricians cannot resolve these issues alone nor can any individual level. It will require a decision to rethink how society has allowed health to slide. Individuals, families, school systems, cities and towns, counties, state and federal government needs to retool to do those things that will help society become healthier. The results will lessen the financial burdens and care systems being overloaded in return society is bound to become more productive and thriving. Can a truly more affordable health-care (Kraft & Furlong, 2018) program be envisioned and put into practice? It seems tax-friendly and a great opportunity to practice bi-partisanship in a manner that nearly all can get behind and push along into a better way of life for all who are able to take advantage.
An assessment of the cost-benefits for either taking action or not taking action:
The costs of increased health awareness and practices are critically less than the costs encountered in this generation. The evidence for this is seen in just how severely society has been struck by Covid-19. This, in fact, if successful on a national level, might be a great target of opportunity on an international level as well.
How feasible are your public policy solutions?
The feasibility of these measures is strongly evidenced by the fact that many of the issues raised are commonsense and low-cost measures that encourage society to work toward wellness, happiness and viable increases in health that will stave away infections, viral and otherwise, and in also attuning the mental and emotional health of society and its individuals will likely result in less crime, certainly less stressors and in general be a boon to society. Part of what is conceived has already had measured success in the nutrition programs and the President Physical Awards program that was vibrant during that era.
It still exists in a program now called the Presidential Youth Fitness Program (PYFP) which focuses on health and lifelong physical activity (PYFT, n.d.) and falls under the National Fitness Foundation as the official charity of The President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition. If the core of this program is kept and then added onto with other value-added features, the program seems low cost and almost foolproof to result in better health for the nation as a whole but especially among the young. The benefit of instilling these great habits while lifetime habits are more easily formed almost goes without saying.
How might society react to your public policy solutions?
Based on empirical evidence, it seems that quite a bit of society has expressed a desire to at least look further into Eastern Traditional Medicine and other systems of self-care and exercise programs such as tai chi and yoga. This might not be for everyone. However, if society uses the old Presidential Physical Fitness Awards program as a model and then adds nutritional aspects with assistance on the self and communal level for emotional and mental health enhancement as well, the programs will soon enough evidence themselves as successful and helpful.
On a negative level, there are some concerns that might need to be addressed that would be raised by some sectors in society. In many aspects, it is crucial that these programs be seen as voluntary and not mandated by any organizational level entity. There are many or at least probably several persons who will find some fault in the programs so that it may behoove society to tailor these programs to the local cultures throughout America. For example, at least some Christians will have valid concerns about integrating yogic and tai chi and other such exercise programs into health systems. These will have to have their spiritual aspects optional or at least a non-spiritual variation of each available to alleviate the concerns. There will also be those who might see this as some sort of program to create some sort of fascistic super society. There will have to be great care in how concerns are addressed and the programs communicated. The key is that the programs are based on how to help society at low cost to the taxpayers to take greater care of collective health so that when pandemics and such things come around, it is of less concern and there are less persons at risk, especially among the nation’s children and adolescents. The benefits speak for themselves in having a healthier, happier more productive America beginning from development of the nation’s youth upward into keeping seniors more active and still focused a bit on good health routines.
What are the ethical implications of the public policy solution?
Ethically, the proposed public policy is one of opportunity not of coercion; healthy choices not something metaphorically shoved down anyone’s throat absent consent. The ethical implications of encouraging the nation to take better care of health through readily available programs and putting the emphasis on the benefits of doing so, seems a very ethical and compassionate opportunity for the nation.
How can one better ‘frame’ the public policy solutions?
As the United States spends twice as much for healthcare per person than any other developed country while, from some perspectives, getting less worthy results, it seems that the public policy described above has framed itself. Each time that money goes into treating preventable illnesses, the issue reframes itself showing the value of preventative care and wellness activities ranging from basic fitness to nutrition (Kraft & Furlong, 2018). This is particularly true as the population demographics continue to age. Someone wiser than most once said that an ounce of prevention was and is worth a pound of cure. Looking around at society today and the healthcare issues and concerns faced by all, but especially the nation’s youth, this old adage seems to have proven itself again. By doing right for the nation’s children, those choosing to do so are doing right for the nation and its future.
American Academy of Pediatrics. (n.d.). American Academy of Pediatrics raises concerns about children’s nutrition and physical activity during pandemic. American Academy of Pediatrics Raises Concern about Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity During Pandemic (aap.org)
Bracho-Sanchez, E., M.D. & Rausch, J., M.D. (2021, January 8). The Covid-19 pandemic worsened an already dire childhood obesity epidemic. CNN. US childhood obesity epidemic worsened by Covid-19 pandemic – CNN
Kraft, M & Furlong, S (2018) Public Policy: Politics, Analysis, and Alternatives. (6th Edition.) Purdue University Global Bookshelf (vitalsource.com))
Presidential Youth Fitness Program. (n.d.) About us. About Us | Presidential Youth Fitness Program (pyfp.org)
(c) May 29, 2021 Michael Doyle (All Rights Reserved)