To protect the health and safety of all communities from current and emerging health threats by strengthening the fundamentals of public health defenses.
The Trust for America's Health was established in 2001 by the Benjamin Spencer Fund to address significant national health problems brought on by chronic diseases, which account for seven of every ten deaths in the United States each year. Chronic diseases such as asthma, Parkinson's, diabetes, cancer, and multiple sclerosis cost American taxpayers $325 billion annually, a figure that is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2020. The Trust advocates for improving the public health system to prevent and respond to chronic diseases effectively.
As a research and advocacy group, the Trust primarily promotes the creation of a Nationwide Health Tracking Network that would involve local, state, and federal public health agencies in tracking the trends of chronic diseases and relevant environmental factors across the country. The information would allow health agencies to identify at-risk populations, alert communities to local health crises, recognize disease clusters and associated factors, and establish prevention strategies.
Other programs at the Trust include Public Health Leadership, an effort to strengthen the office of the Surgeon General, and the Public Health Response to Bioterrorism, which helps communities prepare the necessary health infrastructure to handle chemical and biological attacks.
A recent report from the Trust reveals that the U.S. government doesn't have a national approach to prevent and control animal-borne diseases such as West Nile virus, mad cow disease, and Lyme disease. Because these diseases threaten an increasing number of Americans, the report, Animal-Borne Epidemics Out of Control: Threatening the Nation's Health (24 pages PDF), calls for policy changes to better prepare the nation, as well as a comprehensive tracking network that allows officials to identify the origin of a disease, facilitate its diagnosis and treatment, and contain its spread.
In addition to an overview of the Trust's Issues & Campaigns and the latest Health Headlines, the group's Web site features a Research & Resources area with reports and case studies, updates on health tracking legislation, testimony from the Trust's leaders, and fact sheets on various chronic diseases. Visitors can also learn about the progress of health tracking efforts in every state and engage in advocacy for public health issues.
The Trust receives funding from a number of major foundations, including the Joyce Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Palmer Foundation, the Rockefeller Family Fund, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.