Five Steps to Health and Well-Being in America
Preparation of this book on the future of America’s health was nearing completion at the very height of a historic pandemic. A novel virus and the disease it causes – COVID-19 – have provided a defining moment for the way our society thinks about health and illness. Every one of the nation’s states officially declared a public health emergency. The onerous measures needed to curb the spread of the virus provided vivid reminders of how precious health is, and how much we are willing to sacrifice in order to protect human life and well-being.
In such a difficult time, faith-inspired health systems have a distinctive responsibility to renew their commitment to the mission of preventing illness, restoring health, and collaborating in the development of healthy communities.
The Seventh-day Adventist dedication to fostering human health was born more than 150 years ago. Adventists began to teach the value of a healthy lifestyle and a preference for natural remedies including fresh air, regular exercise and pure water. Within a few years, Adventists expanded their health ministry by establishing innovative health care institutions, where people not only received treatment for diseases but were also taught how to prevent them. Since these early beginnings, Adventists have continued to build hundreds of hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, and health-sciences schools around the world.
The Adventist work for human health and well-being is founded on the belief that every person is a beloved child of the Creator and deserving of compassionate, whole-person care. Adventists believe that caring for physical well-being is spiritually significant. One of the practical implications of such faith is a willingness to take responsibility for one’s own health and that of one’s community. The hope is that all may experience the abundance of life intended by the Creator.
In recent years, the Adventist Health systems in the United States have recognized more fully the opportunity to influence health policy in order to preserve the vitality of charitable, mission-focused health systems and to deploy effective resources to measurably and sustainably improve community health and well-being. In 2010, the Adventist Health Policy Association (AHPA) was created as a united voice for health policy priorities. During the decade since its birth, AHPA has become a trusted advocate for health and well-being policies that make good sense for the nation.
People who are motivated by Christian faith understand that they must address the socially complex circumstances that frequently result in poor individual and community health and well-being. We are committed to responding to the often-inconvenient pleas for mercy and fairness. We know that such work can never be reduced to mere business exchanges. Many of the persons who most need care may have little to offer in exchange.
The experience of the COVID-19 pandemic revealed the health disparities that persist in our nation. Adventists believe that all persons in need of health care, regardless of their social or economic status, are deserving of care. This dedication to prioritize and invest in well-being provides the moral energy necessary to pursue the goals set forth in this plan.
We welcome the President and Congress of the United States to join with us and like-minded policy makers in building a future that is healthier and more equitable for all.
Dr. Gerald Winslow,