Special to the Chronicle - Editorial Section
THE ISSUE: Health in All Policies is about creating a healthy, livable community.
OUR OPINION: Be part of making it happen.
The term “Health in All Policies” may be new to most of us in Citrus County, but it’s a concept that many locations have adopted throughout Florida, as well as across the nation and even the world.
As a recent Chronicle guest column noted, Health in All Policies (HiAP) is about people being aware of what constitutes a healthy community — including physical and social determinants of health — and ensuring through education and advocacy that decision-makers in all areas adopt “health in all policies” thinking. HiAP is a collaborative approach to improving the health of all people by incorporating health considerations into decision-making across all sectors and policy areas.
Citrus County will be hearing that term more and more, as people in a variety of community sectors start bending their thinking in that direction, and as the Citrus 2030 community visioning project solicits input for how to build a healthy, livable Citrus County community.
It’s a simple concept and laudable goal with many routes to achievement. First, though, it requires the political and social will to adopt a long-term view and incorporate collaborative thinking. Everything in our community is connected. Decisions made in one sector have repercussions in other areas.
The key is for everyone to operate within a consensus of what constitutes a healthy, livable community. Many locations in Florida and far more nationwide have adopted a Health in All Policies approach in their comprehensive plans — those goal and policy statements that guide public decision-making — because the choices people make are shaped by the choices people have.
The American Planning Association recently produced a report, funded by the CDC, reviewing how comprehensive plans in locations nationwide have included public health goals as part of the comprehensive planning process, alongside sustainability, social, economic and environmental considerations. The report identified tools and successful mechanisms for implementing those goals.
The topic areas most frequently addressed in successful locations’ comprehensive plans include: active living; emergency preparedness; environmental health; food and nutrition; health and human services; and social cohesion and mental health. Notably, within the health and human services area, aging is a major consideration. Florida this year became an Aging-Friendly state, and to date more than 30 locations — several nearby — have also become registered. It’s something that’s under consideration in Citrus County now.
HiAP should be a driving concept for Citrus County. Take the opportunity to present your suggestions at the Oct. 5 Citrus 2030 Vision Check event. HiAP is a big concept that requires collaborative, long-view thinking and commitment to making this community one for us to enjoy today and others to enjoy tomorrow.