Updated: Jan 28
The National Prevention Science Coalition congratulates President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris on the results of the election, with the most votes of any presidential candidate in history! Pressing issues that require the attention of your office, as you have outlined, are most prominently racial equity, economic restoration, climate change and the disparate impacts of COVID-19 on marginalized populations. As a professional organization that places science at the forefront of critical policy debates, our agenda is to infuse prevention science into policies shown to improve health and economic mobility for all Americans. Prevention is a neglected engine of equal opportunity and we encourage the Biden-Harris administration to implement evidence-based practices and policies generated by prevention science at the core of your agenda. We strongly agree that all of us have a duty to care and to act. Building a healthy, nurturing society with real equality and shared access to supports begins with the determination to build a stronger foundation for everyone.
Prevention science is dedicated to bringing rigorous, transparent and objective scientific evidence onto the policy stage for the betterment of society. Scientific evidence bolsters the effectiveness of policies, and legitimizes communication between the public, researchers and lawmakers that assures the acceptability, feasibility, cultural relevance and uptake of demonstrated policies and practices. The field of prevention has generated solutions for nearly every common and costly health-related problem. This knowledge is now embodied in an arsenal of evidence-based interventions—at the individual, family, school and community levels. Prevention systems include a portfolio of effective programs that can be embedded in communities to systematically deliver evidence-based programs to benefit the whole population. There is an initial cost outlay for these initiatives, but the long-term cost-effectiveness of programs generated by prevention science has the potential to achieve greater benefits on a large scale. Legislative processes are now needed to support the implementation and scale-up of these evidence-based programs and policies in communities across all segments of society.
The federal government is uniquely positioned to lead the nation in transforming systems to work on behalf of all people. Executive orders can require federal agencies to record and report on their efforts to expand access and remove barriers to prevention. Legislation can increase funding, not only for states to use existing platforms like Medicaid to expand prevention services, but to support state, county and local governments efforts to implement, expand and sustain broader prevention systems at the municipal level. Prevention scientists have the capacity and preparedness to inform policies that will systematically begin to weed out racial inequities and a broad range of other disparities and inequalities whose roots lie in barricaded access. Our collective ability as a nation to eradicate racism, poverty, and the uneven impacts of the pandemic and other injustices that are embedded in flawed systems ultimately hinge on compelling deep change in mindsets, systems, and policies to level the playing field for underserved and marginalized populations. The bully pulpit of the Executive branch is the right stage to lead the change.
America faces daunting challenges but we have never been better prepared with ready solutions. Institutionalization of evidence-based prevention strategies across federal agencies and systems is a powerful policy instrument with potential to prevent many of the problems we currently contend with and to promote health, development and well-being on a population level.
We are available to assist (without cost) by providing resources and guiding the processes needed to adopt prevention measures.
Dr. John Roman and Dr. Diana Fishbein