As 17th Surgeon General of the United States, I collaborated with individuals, organizations, governments, and companies throughout our great nation and around the world to protect, preserve, and promote the health, safety, and security of our nation and the world. Each day as Surgeon General, I was reminded of my own experiences as a child growing up in a poor Latino family. The reality is that poor health often follows socio-economic status: the poorer the community, the poorer the health.
These health disparities trap families and communities in a cycle of despair that can dim the hope of success.
We are faced with a growing chronic disease burden that places a tremendous toll on individuals, families, and communities. Tragically, we have all lost family members, friends, neighbors, and co-workers to completely preventable diseases.
To become a healthier world, we must transform our fundamental approach to health. We must move away from the current system that is focused on treating disease to a system focused on embracing wellness through prevention. In the United States, we spend more money on health care than any other nation in the world. If we focus our resources on prevention, we can and will reduce health care costs, and improve our health and well-being.
At Canyon Ranch Institute, we are working with our partners to realize The Power and Possibility of a Healthy World for all people. Our mission is to translate the best practices of Canyon Ranch and our partners to help educate, inspire, and empower every person to prevent disease and embrace of life of wellness.
The world already possesses the scientific evidence to help people achieve optimal wellness. The challenge is to translate that best available science in culturally competent ways into information that people of all ages and backgrounds can understand and use to make positive changes in their behavior in order to achieve optimal wellness every day of their lives.
Health literacy is the currency for achieving a lifetime of wellness. Health literacy allows the public and personnel working in all health-related contexts to find, understand, evaluate, communicate, and use information. With our partners, we are working to increase health literacy by building on each community’s existing health knowledge base and wellness practices. Health literate individuals, families, and communities make better health choices.
At Canyon Ranch Institute, we are motivated by the passion of our founders Enid and Mel Zuckerman. As the founders of Canyon Ranch and Canyon Ranch Institute, Enid and Mel have been working to promote healthy lifestyles for more than 28 years, and they continue to support programs that benefit the well-being of all humanity. I am proud to be a part of their growing efforts, and of their unparalleled legacy of caring.
By embracing the goals of preventing disease, eliminating health disparities, and improving health literacy, we can improve the health of all communities worldwide. I hope that you will join Canyon Ranch Institute in this worthy mission.
Richard H. Carmona, M.D., M.P.H., FACS
President, Canyon Ranch Institute
17th Surgeon General of the United States (2002-2006)