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(INDIANAPOLIS) – Some of America’s biggest health problems are the ones with clear answers. A former Indiana health commissioner is working to put those solutions in place.

The CDC Foundation, a nonprofit created by Congress to rally private-sector funding for the Centers for Disease Control, has been pursuing what it calls its 6/18 program, focusing on six big-impact health challenges, from smoking to Type 2 diabetes. The 18 is what ties them together: 18 proven steps for addressing them.

Foundation president Judy Monroe, who was Governor Mitch Daniels’ health commissioner for five years, told public-health students at UIndy the foundation is coordinating funding in Indiana and more than 30 other states to nudge those solutions along, in part by connecting patients with health providers beyond their doctors, from community health workers to pharmacists.

The effort is focused on state and local efforts to reduce smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, unintended pregnancies, and inadequate antibiotic use. They all have evidence-based solutions — the trick is getting people to do it.

Monroe says sociological factors often get in the way of doing what needs to be done. People in food deserts may have difficulty purchasing healthier food. And aging homes in low-income neighborhoods can aggravate asthma.

High blood pressure started declining a half century ago when drug companies came up with medication to treat it. But Monroe says especially for people in their 40s and 50s, it’s going up again, because people either don’t check their blood pressure or don’t take the meds they’re prescribed. It’s not clear why we’ve gotten worse at it.

(Photo: only5/Thinkstock)