The Texas A&M University System has created "Healthy South Texas," an effort to reduce the incidence of preventable diseases in the southern part of the state.
"Healthy South Texas" will combine the expertise of the Texas A&M Health Science Center with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service to promote preventative health practices at the most local level of the community, the university announced in a news release. With $10 million in funding from the Texas Legislature, the program will begin in a 27-county region of South Texas and will focus on the highest impact diseases in the region, including diabetes, asthma and infectious disease. The initiative brings together experts from medicine, nursing, pharmacy, biomedical science, public health, architecture and extension to engage families, enhance education, promote behavior change, and improve quality of medical care and disease outcomes.
"While the tools and techniques to improve the health of Texans have been, for the most part, available, what was missing was the comprehensive, multi-disciplinary team – with unparalleled statewide capabilities and assets – to transform the impossible into the inevitable," says John Sharp, chancellor of the Texas A&M University System. "We are doing for health what extension agents have done for agriculture for more than a century; essentially creating a new 'crop' of extension agents, poised to empower Texans to take control of their own health and wellness."
Adopting a philosophy that “prevention is the solution,” the initiative will teach South Texans to take personal responsibility over their own health to reduce the burden of costly, preventable diseases.
"Already present in 250 counties throughout the state, extension agents are expert at bringing agricultural research and information to the community – and disseminating it in a way that sticks for generations," says Susan Ballabina, associate director of program development at Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. "Now, working in-tandem with the health science center, we want to add healthier living to that mission."