Communities are small groups of individuals with the same background and socioeconomic conditions. So, when health issues arise in a few community members, everyone else is inevitably affected. When health issues stemming from communities reach the national level, the problem balloons. Case in point, the economic costs of chronic diseases have reached a total of $4.1 trillion in the nation’s annual healthcare expenditures. Diseases like stroke, cancer, obesity, and mental health issues are most common; these result in a $147 billion loss of productivity in various jobs.
To combat this, communities can address common health problems at a grassroots level by utilizing early prevention methods, allocating the necessary resources for treatment, and educating their members on wellness. By prioritizing preventive measures in community healthcare, there will be fewer costs and more lives saved. Here are some ways to address common healthcare issues in the community:
Overweight and obesity
Overweight and obesity are growing epidemics in various communities across the US. Reports on the state of obesity in America show that 19 states have obesity rates over 35%, increasing a person’s risk for hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and sleep apnea, among other debilitating conditions. To combat this trend, one of the possible solutions for individuals could be medical weight loss programs, which address people’s biology and provide powerful, long-term treatments for obesity.
Modern medications produce an average of 15% in weight loss, with most of these drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for chronic weight management. Moreover, medical weight loss programs aim to make these treatments sustainable by pairing them with lifestyle and behavioral changes related to nutrition, exercise, stress, and sleep. Aside from implementing these programs, local communities can further support medical weight loss efforts by making relevant healthcare services widely available and accessible so those concerned with their health and weight can consult medical professionals and identify the most realistic path for their weight loss.
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted or reduced, preventing the brain from receiving oxygen and vital nutrients. Unfortunately, statistics suggest that an American suffers from a stroke every 40 seconds, leading to debilitating circumstances such as paralysis, impaired speech, and memory loss. An estimated $15 billion to $30 billion in stroke-related healthcare expenses plague the US annually, particularly those who have to shoulder these costs without or with limited insurance funding.
As such, Wisconsin and 13 other states have stroke prevention program funding — which is something that should be expanded throughout the US. These programs include stroke care from the initial Emergency Medical Response (EMS) to diligent post-discharge care and rehabilitation. Additionally, stroke detection methods developed by the CDC, like the Face Arm Speech and Time (FAST) acronym, can be integrated into local seminars, workshops, and educational content.
Cancer is one of the most feared diseases worldwide, with over 1.6 million new cases per year. It’s a disease in which some cells in the body grow uncontrollably, spreading the inflammation to different parts rapidly. The treatment for this disease entails a considerable loss for community members since it affects them financially and reduces the quality of people’s lives.
In light of this, communities can focus on early detection solutions similar to the CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP). Aside from early detection screenings and additional assistance in navigating complexities in the health systems, community members can benefit from relevant awareness campaigns under these programs. For instance, anti-smoking campaigns can reduce the occurrence of highly preventable lung cancers. At the same time, detection tips can inform patients about at-home physical examinations they can do to check for any oddly shaped lumps, which are characteristic of some cancers.
Depression and anxiety
Imagine having the Sunday night blues, or the feelings of impending doom and restless sleep that revolve around another week ending, except for months on end. This is a similar sensation to what individuals affected by depression and anxiety might be going through. These feelings of sadness and intense, uncontrollable fear and panic occur for extended periods, interfering with basic functioning and daily activities. Unfortunately, these conditions (which often compound one another) affect about 16 million American adults annually and can happen to anyone at any time.
As mental health problems are often related to a complex mix of factors — traumas, substance abuse, and so on — holistic, community-led interventions are critical. Some communities approach these problems by providing individuals with technical support or culturally sensitive outreach programs, including therapy, adequate medical care, social support, and other methods to help individuals struggling with mental health regain their footing and re-enter society.
Despite the seemingly overwhelming nature of common health problems, note that solutions are available so long as communities can come together and provide the necessary support for healing.