On April 4th CALPHO and about half a dozen public health professionals participated in the Call to Action to Promote Healthy Communities Symposium along with representatives from approximately 16 cross-sector organizations. The Symposium, sponsored by The Colorado Health Foundation and the American Planning Association Colorado Chapter, gathered to begin developing a network of professionals in Colorado to operationalize the Promote Healthy Communities Joint Call to Action.
In preparing my remarks for the event, I reflected on several issues and came to some conclusions that I wanted to share with you all.
CALPHO has been engaged for over 12 months in efforts to understand and promote Health in All Policies (HiaP), a specific way of approaching health equity using a wide range of community policies and applying a health impact lens in traditionally “non-health” sectors.
Health equity and social determinants of health (SDoH) are an increasingly important aspect of governmental public health work, and CALPHO supports local public health agencies (LPHAs) in defining their role in health equity work and identifying the best strategies to move toward health equity in their communities.
Since social and environmental determinants of health, such as education, transportation, finance, and justice “live” in sectors other than public health and health care, and inequity exists across the systems we all work in, public health policy development needs to occur in all sectors and across many systems.
All LPHAs have power to influence health at various policy levels. For example, a 2016 survey of Colorado LPHAs (n=47) revealed that approximately 30% reported working on land use planning policy. CALPHO believes that a HiaP approach can help broaden policy target areas and bring in a wider variety of sectors – such as those present at the Symposium, elected officials, and others – to the table, and bring forth a common understanding of all sectors’ roles in community health.
LPHA’s are required by law to conduct a community health assessment (CHA) and develop a Public Health Improvement Plan (PHIP) every 5 years. This entails using data on key health indicators (such as suicide rates, tobacco use, and diabetes prevalence), and engaging the community in setting top priorities to work on over the next 5 years. In this current fiscal year, almost 70% of LPHAs are working on their CHAs and 21% are working on their PHIPs. There is tremendous opportunity for multi-sector networks all to engage in the dialogue in a meaningful and productive way.
Let me share with you a quote that I found particularly interesting while researching these comments.
“Planning is not an academic exercise, it affects things and real people. You affect matter of health through your choice of streets, parks and infrastructure project.”
--John Morck AICP past president of the American Planners Association, North Carolina Chapter.
HiAP aspires to promote health equity through the consideration of the health impacts in every type of policy decision, in every type of organization, so that any public or private entity can take health into account.
Through engagement, building the relationships, sharing expertise, establishing health goals, and developing comprehensive strategies to improve health, we create windows of opportunity, promote intersectoral collaboration, and develop innovative, community derived strategies that will make Colorado a healthier place to live.
To learn more about HiAP work at CALPHO, please visit www.calpho.org. Look for curated resources on our website, as well as the original postings on the national sponsoring organizations and others such as NACCHO, American Planning Association, Public Health Institute, American Public Health Association, The American Institute of Architects.