The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced the release of $120 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds for prevention and wellness programs for U.S. states and territories, building on the recent announcement of the $373 million funding opportunity for communities and tribes around the country. In all, the comprehensive Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiative will make $650 million available for public health efforts to address obesity, increase physical activity, improve nutrition, and decrease smoking.
“Today’s announcement is an important step toward a healthier America,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “We know that many chronic diseases are preventable, and the resources now available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will assist states and territories in the implementation of proven prevention and wellness programs that will save lives and lower health care costs for all Americans.”
The $120 million in cooperative agreements will be awarded to states and territories for three components: statewide policy and environmental change, tobacco cessation through quitlines and media campaigns, and special initiatives to create health-promoting policies and environments. For the first two components, dollar amounts awarded to each state and territory will be based on population size and number of smokers. For the third component, states will apply for special funds through a competitive process based on the potential health impact of the proposed activities. States and territories will have two years to complete their work. They will coordinate their efforts with other Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiatives in large cities, urban areas, small cities, rural areas, and tribal areas.
“State health departments are the backbone of the public health system and are uniquely positioned to support and leverage local efforts for chronic disease prevention and control,” said Thomas Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “We expect that as a result of this nationwide project, most Americans will live in states with improved obesity-related and tobacco policies, we will make a national shift toward healthy environments, and we will increase significantly the number of people who are able to stop smoking.”