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Posted at 02:12 PM ET, 04/25/2012

National Minority Health month emphasizes preventative measures

April is Minority Health Month, designated by the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Minority Health to raise awareness of health disparities and to encourage action to reduce them. On Tuesday the Office of Minority Health hosted a White House panel focused on the ways the Obama administration is helping communities take action, from advancing mental health to appointing hairstylists as health "ambassadors."

A New Council on Holistic, Preventive Care

Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin. (Mike Kittrell - AP)
U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin spoke largely on preventive health, which she described as more relevant than ever in light of the nation's increasingly diverse demographics and, subsequently, a increasing population with chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease. While she stressed the importance of personal choices, she also discussed how the federal government is prioritizing preventive health in new ways.

The Affordable Care Act, for example, established a new National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council, chaired by Benjamin and made up of the heads of 17 federal agencies. "Our goal is to move our health care system from a focus on sickness and disease to a focus on wellness and prevention," said Benjamin of the council's holistic and integrated approach to community health.

Last summer the council released the first-ever National Prevention Strategy. "It includes everything from safe highways and worksite wellness programs to clean air and healthy foods," she said. "If we follow the recommendations, we can prevent or at least significantly decrease the five leading causes of death."

Read the rest of the story at The Root.

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By The Root | Cynthia Gordy  |  02:12 PM ET, 04/25/2012

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