A handful of Michigan county health department leaders say “health” should play a bigger role in local decision making.
Health department officials from Wayne, Genesee, Ingham, Kent, Kalamazoo, Saginaw and Washtenaw counties met in Lansing this past week to strategize how to change the way local governments do pretty much everything.
Linda Vail is Ingham County’s Chief Health Officer. She says city and county leaders often fail to consider the potential effects their decisions will have on their community’s health.
Vail says it’s important to consider the health effect of even mundane government decisions.
“What we do in terms of with zoning and planning that says we need access to fresh foods….and we need to not have over access to like liquor stores and convenience stores,” says Vail.
Vail says creating a healthy environment is good for everyone in a community.
The “Health in All Policies” movement started in Europe in 2006 and has since expanded to California.
The concept dates back to the 1970’s with the World Health Organization.
The idea is that a community's “health” is determined by many factors that fall outside the control of health care professionals. Factors include: income, employment, education and where people live, work, and play.
Vail says the goal is to get “Health in All Policies” adopted throughout the state of Michigan. That’s something she expects will take some time.