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The County of San Diego is a public organization striving for continuous development and improvement of its activities. The organization plays an important role in realizing the strategy of helping the region to build better health (“County of San Diego Annual Report 2014-2015” 1). Therefore, the organization is focused on providing appropriate policies for improving the health status of the population. The indicators related to health area of influence promoted by the County of San Diego include Life Expectancy and Quality of life (percent of citizens with an appropriate level of health able to live independently) (“County of San Diego Annual Report 2014-2015” 5). Therefore, caring for people that are most vulnerable to becoming dependent on daily care is one of the primary goals of the organization.
Aging citizens of San Diego are one of the main objects of concerns of the County of San Diego. The organization works with providing appropriate policies and solving the problems related to improving the health of the aging population. “The Alzheimer’s Project: A Call to Arms” is the project launched by the County of San Diego to promote the regional initiative to address the urgent problem of enormous rates of the disease and contribute to the problem-solving process. The project gathers together the best specialists to provide expertise and strategic guidance on the creation of policies able to decrease the current rates of the disease and improve the life of people suffering from it (“The Alzheimer’s Project: A Call to Arms” 6).
The Central Issue
Through promoting the discussed project, the County of San Diego strives for dealing with such issues, as broadening the knowledge about the Alzheimer’s disease, improving existing treatments, and investing in promising areas of research. Alzheimer’s disease is fatal and every year takes millions of life of US citizens (Ballard et al. 1019). San Diego also faces the skyrocketing numbers of patients suffering from the disease and needs urgent solutions to stop the tendencies of a growing percent of people with the symptoms of the disease. Besides being fatal, the disease puts a tremendous toll on caregivers, as caring for such patients is extremely challenging and expensive. Alzheimer’s disease causes a huge economic burden in San Diego and puts a serious threat to the ability of healthcare system to function properly. Therefore, investing time and efforts in dealing with the central issues of the project can benefit the citizens of San Diego and the whole population of the country. If effective methods of dealing with the problem are found in the project, the effective policies would be developed to ensure implementing efficient solutions in San Diego.
The Major Factors
One of the major factors influencing the development of issues related to the discussed project is the involvement of all groups of specialists from different sectors affected by Alzheimer’s disease. The effective participation of all important stakeholders is the factor that defines the success of the project. Three roundtables were organized within the project to promote searching for efficacious solutions for the issue. Each of the roundtables reflects different factor influencing the issue. The Care Roundtable including care providers, public safety, community-based organizations, healthcare providers, etc. reflects the factor related to the level of quality of care delivered to the patients with the disease. The factor of care has a huge influence on the discussed issue as the possibility of decreasing the rates of the disease directly depends on the quality of provided care.
The Cure Roundtable including researchers, physician-scientists, biotech representatives, etc. reflects the factor related to the appropriate research aimed at developing effective cures. The possibility of suppressing the speed of spreading of the disease can be raised if an appropriate cure is found. The Clinical Roundtable including clinicians reflects the factor related to the level of quality of diagnosis and treatment of the disease. It is essential for combating the issue, as appropriate diagnostics and effective treatment are the cornerstones of preventing further growth of the rates of fatal outcomes. The Public Education & Awareness effort was organized to “educate, engage, build awareness and generate support” (“The Alzheimer’s Project: A Call to Arms” 18). These steps help to get the issue on the public agenda.
Relevant History around the Issue
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia that is a clinical syndrome known characterized by such mental problems as the disturbance in speech and memory and difficulties in performing daily activities (Burns and Iliffe 467). As the number of San Diegans living with Alzheimer’s raised to sixty thousand, Chairwoman Diane Jacob addressed this epidemic in her speech and emphasized the importance of searching for an effective cure by San Diego’s world-class researchers (“The Alzheimer’s Project: A Call to Arms” 6). The chairwoman also emphasized the importance of easing the burden of the disease on the entire region. Supervisor Dave Roberts teamed up with the Chairwoman on the initiative, and the Alzheimer’s Project was launched (“The Alzheimer’s Project: A Call to Arms” 6). The project has brought together numerous experts and decision-makers, including researchers, healthcare providers, and community organizations.
Solutions for Resolving the Problem
The solutions for resolving the problem include steps that need to be made to influence the issue from different perspectives. First of all, the County of San Diego aims at developing a countywide plan that will help to improve the network of services for elderly people suffering from Alzheimer’s. It also puts an emphasis on establishing screening, diagnostic and disease management standards for primary care physicians and raising funding for necessary research aimed at finding an effective cure. Besides, the County of San Diego aims at launching an education and public awareness campaign. Such campaign will help to develop the understanding of the warning signs and provide appropriate training for public safety and social service personnel. The organization also needs to expand its Legislative Program to support legislation that provides enough resources for improving the level of care provided for people with Alzheimer’s and supporting the regional strategy. All of the identified solutions will help to benefit society with an effective strategy for combating one of the most heartbreaking and complicated diseases having serious negative implications on public life.
Challenges and Opportunities
The main challenges faced by the members of the initiative and the whole society are related to lack of information about the causes of the disease and the process of its development. Alzheimer’s remains one of the most mysterious diseases, as though certain assumptions about its nature are made, the scientists and doctors still cannot confirm that modern science and medicine have developed an effective algorithm for assessing the potential premises of the disease (Dalvi 669). Besides, the issue is also related to financial challenges, as caregiving for people suffering from the disease cost enormous sums of money, and as the number of such patients grows every year, the society suffers from a lack of financial opportunities to support them. The growing percent of aging population is also a challenge, as aging citizens are the most vulnerable to the disease.
The main opportunities for the initiative include raising the consciousness of people about the importance of early diagnostics of the disease, as such strategy will help to prevent severe damage to organism caused by the absence of in time medical care. Besides, one of the main opportunities for the initiative is to raise funds for new research projects aimed at developing an effective cure for the disease, as currently it is considered incurable (Dezell and Hill 1).
Benefits versus Costs
The cost of the initiative is relatively high, as gathering a big number of specialists together requires big investments. Besides, educational activities organized to raise public consciousness about the premises of the disease also need significant spending. Though the costs of the project are high, its benefits are significantly higher, as the epidemic of the disease causes enormous spending. If the project achieves its goals and finds the way to provide efficient funding for research projects and preventive educational activities, the results will outweigh the costs. If wide publicity becomes aware of the methods of providing in time care for the early stages of the disease and appropriate research projects aimed at finding the effective cure are launched, the initiative will recover expenditure.
The Findings of the Interview
I interviewed Dave Roberts, the supervisor of the County of San Diego to better understand the specifics of engaging in issues of concern and launching efficient initiatives. The interview subject shared his views on doing politics on behalf of the public issue. He emphasized that politicians have a huge power to attract the attention to certain issues that raise significant concerns. He mentioned that though some politicians can manipulate such issues to achieve their personal goals, responsible politicians have a huge potential for changing society’s position on different matters. In the case of the Alzheimer’s Project, Roberts emphasized the importance of addressing politicians to provide the full implementation of the National Alzheimer’s Plan. Besides, it is necessary to promote awareness of politicians of the importance of providing appropriate funding of activities aimed at raising public interest to the problem.
The interview subject’s experience might teach me that launching a public initiative requires certain skills in organizing effective educational activities aimed at raising public awareness of the certain issue. Besides, I learned that the success of such initiatives depends on the effective strategy of providing funds for the activities involved in the project. I also learned that such initiatives are the cornerstones of developing efficacious public policies necessary for regulating the life of society and dealing with the most vital and urgent problems.
The analysis of the specifics of dealing with public issues and launching appropriate initiatives on the example of such organization as The County of San Diego and its project “The Alzheimer’s Project: A Call to Arms” helped to explore the specifics of the process of addressing the issues of concern.
Ballard, Clive, Serge Gauthier, Anne Corbett, Carol Brayne, Dag Aarsland, and Emma Jones. “Alzheimer’s Disease.” The Lancet 377.9770 (2011): 1019-1031. Print.
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Burns, Alistair, and Steve Iliffe. “Alzheimer’s Disease.” British Medical Journal 338.7692 (2009): 467-471. Print.
County of San Diego Annual Report 2014-2015. 2015. Web.
Dalvi, Arif. “Alzheimer’s Disease.” Disease-a-Month 58.12 (2012): 666-677. Print.
Dezell, Maureen, and Carrie Hill. Your Guide to Health: Alzheimer’s: Reliable Information for Patients and Their Families, Avon, Massachusetts: Adams Media. Print.
The Alzheimer’s Project: A Call to Arms. 2015. Web.