Posts Tagged ‘health impact assessment’

Health in All Policies Guidance

October 16th, 2013

The California Department of Public Health, the California Endowment, and the Public Health Institute released a document called  “Health in All Policies: A Guide for State and Local Governments” this week…  which provides best practices to improve the public’s health and safety by incorporating health considerations into decision-making across all sectors and policy areas. 

The guide features strategies for achieving good health and sustainability across the community and tips for engaging stakeholders, building relationships, and making joint decisions across sectors. The publication also includes guidance on developing messages around health in all policies, as well as examples of benefits that can be attained through strong public health policy. 

This new report ties in nicely with our new azhealthcommunities.org website, which is another tool that provides information on the influence of community design, accessibility and transportation on health. You can even find some recent examples of how communities in Arizona are working to create healthier environments and learn to create a Health Impact Assessment, which can be used to help city projects improve population health. These are just some examples of how we can work to promote healthy and safe community environments – one of our priority areas of our Strategic Map.

 

AZ’s Community Planning Matrix

May 14th, 2013

Over the last few weeks, I’ve written about how a city’s General Plan is one tool for communities to define how they want their city or town to grow and improve population health and how city planning can have a real impact.  I wrote about how community residents can use a recently developed Toolkit put together by ADHS and other members of the Healthy Community Design Collaborative to help them get started and a schedule for General Plan updates for some AZ cities.   

Other community planning resources I’ve written about recently include workshops coordinated by the Urban Land Institute.  The workshops, known as the Community Plan are a free service for public officials at the local level that focus on a holistic approach to land use planning, zoning, transportation, economic development, real estate development and finance. 

Another tool for impacting community and population is something called a “Health Impact Assessment”.  It’s basically a tool for assessing and influencing policy or project decisions to improve health.  A simple example is that if your neighborhood has safe, accessible sidewalks or walking or biking paths, you’ll be more likely to be physically active.  

Health Impact Assessments are used a lot in Europe- and they’re gaining steam here in the U.S.  For example, AZ completed a comprehensive health impact assessment last summer.  We worked with the Maricopa County Department of Public Health on the health impact assessment of the proposed Tempe Modern Streetcar, which will be a 3-mile trolley system connecting the current light rail system to Southern.  

The HIA Team developed comprehensive recommendations that were provided to Tempe for their consideration in planning of the trolley system.  Some of the ideas proposed include: having a bike rental system; adding shade to the walking environment; implementing safe routes to school; identifying sites for additional farmers markets; encouraging supermarkets in underserved areas; encouraging community gardens; installing a buffer between sidewalk and arterial streets to make walking safer; installing pedestrian signals; and implementing a 20 minute neighborhood concept for the neighborhoods within the streetcar corridor- so people are more likely to walk or bike.

We have a couple training opportunities coming up if you want to learn more about health impact assessments.

AZ Healthy Community Design Tools

April 15th, 2013

Improving the health of Arizonans is critical to improving the quality of life as well as reducing health care costs. The most effective strategies are ones that incorporate the principles of population health… which includes health outcomes as well as the determinants that influence those outcomes including the public policy that influences the social and environmental determinants. A city’s General Plan can be a large public health lever to improve those outcomes. 

Designing healthier communities requires a new way of thinking. For example, the way a city zones can affect how easy it is to get physical activity.  The tough part is connecting all of the right people to sit in on the conversation together. The zoning people might not talk to the health people, who may not talk to the transportation folks. But where can community residents start? One place to start is with a recently developed Toolkit put together by ADHS and other members of the Healthy Community Design Collaborative

This toolkit is really designed to help cities, towns and counties strategically think about how to enhance health through changing the built environment, like through adding sidewalks or bike lanes. It’s basically a guide for local residents who want to participate in their community planning process. The Toolkit provides a general overview of the process, explains the purpose of city General Plans, and gives guidance regarding who to talk to in local government- and presents ways to get involved. There’s also a checklist for what policy topics should be addressed in a plan and even some examples of policies for residents to consider for incorporation into their city’s General Plan. It also provides coaching for community residents to build relationships that facilitate implementing policy language. 

Our team recently created the azhealthcommunities.org website, which is another tool that provides information on the influence of community design, accessibility and transportation on health. You can even find some recent examples of how communities in Arizona are working to create healthier environments and learn to create a Health Impact Assessment, which can be used to help city projects improve population health. These are just some examples of how we can work to promote healthy and safe community environments – one of our priority areas of our Strategic Map.