Bala Simon, M.D., Dr.PH., to Serve in Leadership Role for National Organization

By Kev' Moye

Simon — who has teaching and clinical appointments in the UAMS colleges of Public Health and Medicine — is serving a one-year term that began in September for the 7,000-member organization, which advocates and educates with a goal to promote leadership and capacity to address chronic disease prevention and control efforts across the nation. Chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, lung disease and Alzheimer’s account for more than 70% of all deaths, and 80% of health care dollars spent in the United States.

“The NACDD is an advocacy organization for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and each of the states,” Simon said. “The organization strives to help people enjoy a better quality of life without the burden of a chronic disease.

“Health care access needs to move more into the prevention aspect. An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure,” he added. “I fully support the mission and vision of the organization and what it does to mitigate the burden of chronic diseases.”

A desire to use public health to help address the nation’s chronic health issues drove Simon to vie for president. As a family and preventive medicine physician, Simon aspires to fuse public health concepts and medicine. He said it’s a matter of using research to promote proactive approaches to prevent chronic diseases.

“I’m passionate about educating and empowering our elected officials about the need for a preventive approach to health care and using models that can decrease the health care needs and expenditures,” Simon said.

As president, just a few of his duties are serving as designated state chronic disease director for Arkansas, presenting a Board of Directors President’s Challenge, and leading NACDD to accomplish its mission and vision in the coming year. Simon’s challenge aims to support the health industry’s front-line workers.

“My challenge will emphasize having a thriving public health workforce,” he said. “My hope is to focus on the employee fulfillment hierarchy of needs to build a strong, resilient, healthy workforce. I’m advocating for promoting the physical, mental and emotional health of the chronic disease workforce.”

Simon — who’s also the deputy chief medical officer for the Arkansas Department of Health — said his presidency can greatly benefit Arkansas.

“I will advocate for not only for the CDC and the states, but most specifically Arkansas and help bring good fortune here,” he said.

Simon has been a faculty member in the Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health for over two decades. He noted this his new role will help create new connections for UAMS students, faculty and staff.

“My appointment will help highlight the great work already taking place in the college through the Center for Research, Health and Social Justice, and their work addressing community health,” he said. “I want to highlight it on a national level.

“I also want to bring what I learn, the connections I make to my medical and public health students. I want to show them that it doesn’t matter where you come from, it’s about how your passion drives you. That can take any person far in life.”