Kent County Health Department's "Health Lens" focuses on Health in All Policies

Aug 16, 2017

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Health in All Policies is a concept that asks government leaders at all levels to consider policy decisions through what the Kent County Health Department calls a “Health Lens.”

“How do we create policies both at the community level, but also within organizations, in the neighborhoods that are conducive to more healthy environment, better education, better job opportunities , better transportation, all the things that are really a precursors to health outcomes.”

That’s Adam London, Administrative Health Officer with the Kent County Health Department. “When we look at our Community Health Needs Assessment the community identified what the greatest health priorities are and the community told us mental health is number one. Obesity and nutrition are number two. Substance use disorders number three and we see that with opioids and alcoholism, so many problems, and then violence is another issue similar to what we saw in Charlottesville over the weekend. All of these are really the rotten fruits of disorders in our community. Problems which can’t be solved by any one sweeping policy or one sweeping program, but by looking at the policies and the environment and the culture within all of our organizations, within all of our neighborhoods and even within all of our homes, looking at how do we as a community prevent some of these issues by focusing on policies and practices which can prevent some of those disorder problems from happening to begin with.”

At Grand Valley State University’s Eberhard Center, Julia Caplan leader of California’s Health in All Policies Task Force addressed local public and private leaders explaining how high rates of chronic disease like obesity, diabetes and cancers among young people need to be addressed. She says policy can curb the economic and societal burden on the health care system.

“These are the result of things like poverty, homelessness, food insecurity, lack of transportation options, lack of educational opportunities, joblessness so if we really want to address this health crisis in America we have to work together across all sectors.”

The Kent County Health Department says an action plan for next steps in the Health in All Policies movement is being developed by interested partners and stakeholders.

Patrick Center, WGVU News.