The US medical system isn’t particularly good at preventing illness. Once someone is sick, doctors hopefully know how to treat them. But historically, there’s been far less focus on preventing people from needing treatment in the first place.
That’s finally starting to change, thanks to a growing movement in the health-care community that looks to address the environmental and behavioral causes of many common diseases. Prevention, experts say, will save money (though it’s unclear how much) and lead to an improvement in many people’s quality of life. As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Nowhere is that shift more visible than California, where governor Gavin Newsom recently created the position of surgeon general to focus on the “early warning signs and childhood determinants” of diseases and poor health outcomes.
Pediatrician and child health advocate Nadine Burke Harris will be sworn in to this position today (Feb. 11). She plans to use her decades of experience treating childhood trauma to lead the state’s push ”for a system that promotes health instead of managing sickness.” . . .