Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Using public policy as a tool to improve health

Panelists speak at the Joan H. Tisch Forum in Public Health

Georges Benjamin, at left, moderates the Joan H. Tisch Forum in Public Health at Hunter College with Bruce Vladek, Rich Besser and Jim Marks (from left to right). Photo courtesy Philip Kessler Photography

 

 

From the 15 December 2011 Public Health Newswire

Our nation is undergoing a significant debate about how best to improve the health of its citizens. Much of that debate has been around insurance coverage and reform. While this is an important debate, much of what influences the degree of healthiness of individuals and communities is outside the traditional health system.

Health is about our housing; where we dump our trash; access to clean, affordable and safe food, water and air; how we build our communities in terms of their ability to support active living and the presence of economic opportunity. These factors are affected by public policy decisions and therefore can be used strategically and on a population basis to improve health.

New York City has used this approach to great effect. They have relied on the findings of community health surveys to determine their health priorities and then developed many of the city’s most significant policy initiatives, including food environment policies such as banning trans fats at restaurants and requiring calorie-count restaurant displays, increasingly aggressive anti-smoking policies, increased bicycle paths, improved access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and a novel registry to track diabetes control.

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December 16, 2011 - Posted by | Public Health |

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