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South Carolina Arthritis Prevention and Control Program

Program Overview

In 1998 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Arthritis Foundation, and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials released the first national plan to address arthritis. More than 90 organizations offered input into The National Arthritis Action Plan: A Public Health Strategy (NAAP). The plan emphasized targeting population groups through a systematic public health approach, focusing on prevention, early diagnosis, and appropriate management of the disease to prevent disability.

In response to NAAP, arthritis was included in the nation’s health objectives for the first time. In 1999, Congress appropriated funds for CDC to develop a national public health program on arthritis.  The same year, CDC announced a "request for proposals" for state arthritis programs.  Thirty-eight state health departments were funded, including the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).

DHEC was awarded funding to develop the South Carolina Arthritis Prevention and Control Program (hereinafter called the SC Arthritis Program) within DHEC.  The program was established to develop a public health, population-based approach to the arthritis in South Carolina. The program focused on conducting surveillance, developing a state plan for arthritis action, increasing awareness of arthritis as a public health issue, and addressing gaps in services for people with arthritis. The CDC continues to fund the program today, along with those in eleven other states.

Current Program Activity Highlights:

  • Produce and disseminate reports highlighting the prevalence and impact of arthritis in the state.
  • Build a statewide infrastructure of partners to embed and sustain evidence-based Life Improvement Programs within their organizations to improve the quality of life for people with arthritis and other related or co-occurring conditions.
  • Provide leadership, support, training, and technical assistance to partners to offer Life Improvement Programs in communities throughout the state. Develop relationships with partners who can serve as referral networks or provide other supportive roles to increase access to and use of evidence-based Life Improvement Programs.  
  • Provide educational information to governmental and organizational policy makers.
  • Facilitate adoption of environmental approaches or policy changes that will lead to more widespread and uniform distribution of evidence-based programs. The ultimate goal is to have programs accessible to all people with arthritis, regardless of where they live, their race, ethnicity, or income. 
  • Heighten awareness of arthritis data and programmatic activities through the media.
  • Increase awareness about the importance of physical activity as a pain reliever for arthritis.
  • Work collaboratively with other chronic disease programs and stakeholders; and maintain collaborations to increase the program's efficiency, effectiveness, and impact.

Program Contact Information:
Cora Plass, MSW, LISW
Director of Healthy Aging

South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control
1751 Calhoun Street
Columbia, South Carolina 29201
(803) 898-0760