State trust working to improve Oklahomans' health

BY YOUR NAME Staff Writer Published: July 14, 2013

Regarding “Doctor shortage needs prescription” (Associated Press, June 24): The Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust is proud to support recruiting physicians to rural Oklahoma through a $1.8 million, five-year grant to the Physician Manpower Training Commission. In its second year, the program has recruited three physicians to practice in rural Oklahoma. Doctors who practice for four years could get up to $160,000 for student loans. For each physician recruited to rural Oklahoma, 17 jobs are added and $1.5 million goes back to the community, according to commission figures. This is one of the many strategic investments the endowment trust's board of directors makes to improve the health of all Oklahomans.

The trust, a grant-making state agency, funds the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline, public education campaigns, community grants and support for research institutions. While access to health care is one way people can become healthy, research shows that health behaviors, such as tobacco use, physical inactivity and poor nutrition account for nearly 40 percent of health status. The best way to change our healthy behaviors is to make the healthy choice, the easy choice. The trust's strategic plan focuses on reducing the leading causes of preventable death in our state — cancer and cardiovascular disease — by promoting environments that support healthy eating, active living and tobacco-free lifestyles.

The Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust, created by voters in 2000, is keeping its promise to voters to work to improve the health of all Oklahomans.

George Foster, Tahlequah

Foster, an optometrist, is vice chairman of the endowment trust's board of directors.


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