Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

IOM Report: Government Should Consider Public Health Implications Of All Major Legislation

A new report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) says that strong evidence indicates that policies beyond the health sector have substantial effects on people’s health, and recommends that all levels of U.S. government adopt a structured approach to considering the health effects of any major legislation or regulation.

Excerpts from the report brief

Good health is not merely the result of good medical care but the result of what we do as a society to create the conditions in which people can be healthy. Public policy can be one of the most effective approaches to protecting and improving the health of the population. Unlike the one-on-one care provided by clinicians, laws, regulations, and other policies can affect the health of millions. This makes “healthy” public policy particularly important in a time of scarce resources, because it can diminish or preclude the need for other, more costly and potentially less efficient interventions.

The IOM report addresses three categories of law and public policy pertinent to health:

1. Laws that establish the structure, function, and authority of government public health agencies at the federal, state, and local levels.

2. Statutes and other policies that are designed to achieve specific health objectives, for example, taxing tobacco products and requiring immunization for school entry.

3. Policies in other areas of government, such as education, transportation, land use planning, and agriculture, that have health effects. In this area, intersectoral strategies are necessary—non-health agencies can contribute to improving health by considering the health implications of their policies. vices as the standard of practice in public health.

The report makes recommendations in these areas

  • Laws and policies should be updated to reflect current science, practice, socioeconomic conditions, and goals such as the CDC’s 10 essential public health services***
  • Legal and policy tools should be more effectively used, including regulations, taxation, and modification of the environment (as bicycle paths).
  • Inclusion of all health policy stakeholders should be encouraged to prevent unintended negative consequences of health policy and legislation. Examples includeThese stakeholders are potential allies in addressing related issues outside of the health sector, as housing, employment, and education arenas.

***From the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site

he Essential Public Health Services provide the fundamental framework for the NPHPSP instruments, by describing the public health activities that should be undertaken in all communities.

The Core Public Health Functions Steering Committee developed the framework for the Essential Services in 1994. This steering committee included representatives from US Public Health Service agencies and other major public health organizations.

The Essential Services provide a working definition of public health and a guiding framework for the responsibilities of local public health systems.

  1. Monitor health status to identify and solve community health problems.
  2. Diagnose and investigate health problems and health hazards in the community.
  3. Inform, educate, and empower people about health issues.
  4. Mobilize community partnerships and action to identify and solve health problems.
  5. Develop policies and plans that support individual and community health efforts.
  6. Enforce laws and regulations that protect health and ensure safety.
  7. Link people to needed personal health services and assure the provision of health care when otherwise unavailable.
  8. Assure competent public and personal health care workforce.
  9. Evaluate effectiveness, accessibility, and quality of personal and population-based health services.
  10. Research for new insights and innovative solutions to health problems.

June 25, 2011 - Posted by | Public Health, Uncategorized | , ,

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