Surgeon General Releases First Report Focused on Community Health and Economic Prosperity

19 January 2021

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Office of the Surgeon General (OSG) released Community Health and Economic Prosperity: Engaging Businesses as Stewards and Stakeholders — A Report of the Surgeon General. The first report of its kind, the Surgeon General’s report raises awareness of the U.S. health disadvantage and demonstrates to business leaders the opportunity investing in community health can bring to the business bottom line and the health of the economy.

The report included significant contributions from several faculty and staff at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, including researchers at Darden’s Institute for Business in Society. Notably, Professor Greg Fairchild provided substantive direction as a senior scientific editor on the report and a panelist at the report’s official public release event, and Professor Andy Wicks was a contributing author on the report.

“As a physician, I understand that health happens in communities. The fact is, our environment shapes the opportunities we have, and a lack of opportunity can mean poor health, education, family and career outcomes” stated Vice Adm. Jerome M. Adams, Surgeon General. “When Americans lack the opportunity to reach their full health and economic potential, we all pay a price.”

With the onset of COVID-19, the U.S. has faced new, additional challenges to health and disruptions to the economy.

“We know that economic opportunity — as well as the stable families, healthy environments, and strong communities it supports — is good for health. But too many Americans are born into and grow up in low-opportunity neighborhoods. This creates costs for business and for society, as so many Americans never achieve their potential in the workforce, are unable to reach independence, and see their health and the health of their loved ones suffer as a result,” said HHS Secretary Alex M. Azar. “This Surgeon General’s report offers a way forward for the United States to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and to build a healthier, more prosperous future for all Americans.”

The report is designed to reach an audience of business leaders and contains dozens of examples of businesses implementing policies, practices and decisions that strengthen community health while solving business problems or increasing the business bottom line. The report makes the case for why business leaders should care about community health and seeks to mobilize business leaders to take action to build healthier communities and a healthier economy for all. Fourteen recommendations provide guidance on how businesses can address the U.S. health disadvantage by engaging with and investing in communities, while creating value, lowering business costs, and improving the health of employees and other stakeholders. The report explores:

  • The U.S. health disadvantage and the burden it places on businesses and the economy (in addition to people and families);
  • How communities can become (or improve as) places that nurture health, wealth, and well-being and offer children and families opportunities to thrive; and
  • The meaning and role of businesses in the United States, and how businesses can create value for themselves and their communities by helping to address the conditions that drive poor health and by creating the conditions that help people thrive

The release provides the public with robust examples of how businesses, community members and leaders, financial institutions, social enterprises, public health agencies, philanthropies and so many others can join together and strengthen community health and economic prosperity and increase opportunity for all.

For the full report and to access the consumer materials, visit https://www.hhs.gov/surgeongeneral/reports-and-publications/community-health-economic-prosperity/index.html

 

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D., MSBA and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.

 

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