The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Improve the Health and Wellness of Persons with Disabilities
Message from Michael O. Leavitt
Secretary of Health and Human Services
Individuals with disabilities are newborn infants, children, teens, working-age adults and older adults of all races and ethnicities. They live in towns, cities and rural areas. They attend schools and places of worship, vote, marry, have children, work and play. They also need health care and health promotion programs for the same reasons we all do: to stay well, to be active and to participate in community life.
This Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Improve the Health and Wellness of Persons with Disabilities emphasizes the centrality of health to the quality of our lives. Developed by the Surgeon General in collaboration with the Department’s Office on Disability, it describes the particular challenges to health and well-being faced by persons of all ages with disabilities. It places their health squarely among the public health issues at the forefront of research, service delivery, financing, training and education and health care policy today. It also builds upon the Nation’s efforts to promote wellness and disease prevention in all persons, including those with disabilities, as called for in the President’s HealthierUS Initiative.
Just as the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and President George W. Bush’s New Freedom Initiative have opened doors for persons with disabilities through equal access and inclusion, the overarching principle of this Call to Action recognizes that with good health, persons with disabilities have the freedom to work, learn and engage actively in their families and their communities. In other words, health and wellness is a key component to realizing the central principles of the NFI—the assurance of educational opportunity, workforce engagement and full access into daily community life.
It will take effort by all members of society to achieve this principle. Everyone has a role to play in improving health and wellness, from health care and service support providers, training institutions, federal, state, local and tribal governments, the private sector and the media, to persons with disabilities and their families and community groups nationwide.
I wholeheartedly endorse this Call to Action. I encourage you to join me in making a healthier U.S. for all of us.
Last revised: January 4, 2007