The Chronic Disease Coalition is a part of the Communities in Action groups and has been around for a little over a year.

The goals of the coalition is to “increase community awareness of chronic disease prevention, create strong linkage between community services and providers and to ensure, help and identify resources for those already with chronic diseases.”

Every three years the health department puts together a strategic plan, in which they identify the biggest issues the community feels are important.

According to the Richland County Quality of Life Strategic Plan, “Chronic disease was identified as a focus area based on the feedback from the Strategic Planning Conference in 2018. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic diseases are identified as broadly conditions that last one year or more and require ongoing medical attention limit activities of daily living, or both.”

Amanda VandeBossche, head of the Chronic Disease Coalition said the group focuses on prevention, self-management and educational support.

“The Chronic Disease Coalition kind of branched off the Cancer Coalition,” VandeBossche said.

Most chronic diseases are caused by things such as tobacco use, exposure to second hand smoke, poor nutrition, lack of physical activity and excessive alcohol use.

“We are wanting to focus on asthma, heart failure and heart disease and diabetes,” VandeBossche said.

While there were classes that already existed, the coalition has started new classes such as diabetes support group.

Some of the strategies that the coalition has are things such as providing opportunities for self-management, education and support by offering two evidence-based trainings per quarter by Dec. 31, 2020. Another strategy they are working on is having a referral system in place by the end of this year.

According to the strategic plan put together this year, chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer contribute to the leading causes of death within Richland County.

The coalition has the support of health educators, tobacco specialists, diabetes educators, commission on aging and the extension office.

“Addressing chronic disease impacts the health of the community by affecting the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. Rates of chronic disease decrease with positive policy, system, and environmental changes.”

The Cancer Coalition, Chronic Disease Coalition and diabetes support group are all addressing the issue of chronic diseases in the area.

The Communities in Action groups impact the indicators of chronic disease by implementing strategies that focus on a healthier lifestyle.

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