The “Winnable Battles” report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention came out this Monday and showed both accomplishments and failures regarding the CDC’s primary objectives.
The CDC choose six initial problems that they labeled as “Winnable Battles” when starting this program in 2009. They are tobacco, nutrition, physical activity, obesity, and food safety, healthcare-associated infections, motor vehicle injuries, teen pregnancy, and HIV in the U.S.
According to the Center, identifying the main struggles of the country regarding health was the first step to making any improvement. The primary consideration to select those initial problems was the possibility of helping the largest amount of American citizens as quick as possible. It was more about reframing the priorities of the nation, the CDC stated in the report.
Obesity and food poisoning are getting worse
According to the Director of the CDC, Dr. Tom Frieden, the numbers regarding obesity, food poisoning and infection spread in hospitals are not the expected.
“The data speak for themselves. If you look for the goal we set for ourselves, and look at what happened, we didn’t achieve it,” Frieden said about the obesity data collected by the CDC.
Despite the enormous effort done by the Obama Administration and its top public health agency, the numbers that the “Winnable Battles” report presented are not the ones that the company itself planned.
The CDC report showed that the goal set to reduce obesity rates among toddlers and children, in general, was not accomplished. Actually, the rate even increased to more than 17 percent. Also, the illness rates from salmonella disease increased too.
Another objective of the health agency was to prevent infections spread at hospitals and medical facilities. Here there was a mixed progress because three of the selected diseases did present a fall in the rates but not enough to reach target levels. Even urinary infections didn’t show any drop at all.
Also, the number of HIV didn’t reach the 25 percent fall. It only got to 18 percent.
However, a significant accomplishment for the CDC was the numbers of teen pregnancy in the US. The agency presented the objective to lower the rate of teen birth to 20 percent, and the report confirmed the success.
Smoking at its lower point in recent history
The current number of American citizens that smoke cigarettes is below 40 million for the first time in half a century. According to the CDC, in 2005 about 21 percent of Americans were smokers. However, in 2015, the reports shows that 15 percent of Americans are smoking, representing a difference of over 8 million persons in just ten years. Right now they are 36.5 million smokers in U.S. territory.
The groups of populations presented several changes. The smoking rates declined mostly among young people. However, about 13 percent of individuals between 18-24 years-old continue to smoke. There was an 8 percent drop among men and a 3 percent drop among women, comparing the 2005 numbers with the CDC report.
The population groups that presented the lowest changes are non-Hispanic blacks and non-Hispanic white citizens, with 16.5 percent of them still smoking. The Hispanic group also almost didn’t change, with 10 percent of that group still smoking. Surprisingly, the Medicaid recipients are among the groups that presented an increase in the smoking rates.
CDC’s great effort
When Dr. Tom Frieden introduced the “Winnable Battles” program, the public health agency received a high amount of critics. This because experts called the targets and objectives as “very easy to accomplish.” They argued that teen pregnancy and smoking rates were dropping even before Frieden took office in 2009.
They also explained that to lower the car crash rate as a death cause was relatively easy because those numbers were in a constant drop year after year. However, the rates of car accident deaths only reduced to 21 percent.
Dr. Frieden stated that the goals regarding every health aspect were very ambitious and hard to accomplish.
The CDC also received applauses after the release of the report, considering the hard work this agency has made towards the health of American population. The experts that have supported the CDC´s initiative had said that the agency doesn’t have the abilities and resources to prevent diseases entirely or to avoid people to hurting themselves completely.
“I think, to CDC’s credit, they picked a broad range of public health challenges and they set the bar high enough that they could not automatically declare success at the end of an administration,” said Jeff Levi, a George Washington University professor of health management and policy.
The main pride that this agency has is the remarkable reduction in smoking rates. Smoking is the leading cause of death among American citizens, and the numbers presented in the report show the great and hard work the agency has made towards this objective. The CDC has stated that “price increases, mass media attention and prevention services” are needed to end the smoking problem shortly.