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Health & Medicine Supports “Health in All Policies”

Wesley Epplin
May 25, 2016
Over the last year, Health & Medicine has assisted the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) develop Healthy Chicago 2.0, the recently released community health improvement plan for the city.  The plan includes pursuit of a “Health In All Policies” approach, a model for ensuring that all parts of policy, programs, and governmental agencies consider health impacts in decision-making.

On May 12, Health & Medicine provided testimony to Chicago’s City Council’s Committee on Health and Environmental Protection in favor of a Health in All Policies Resolution R2016-177 (here is the webpage for tracking the resolution).  Our testimony can be viewed here.
 
We’re pleased to share that the resolution has now passed both the Committee on Health and Environmental Protection and the full City Council (see the press release here). Along with the Health in All Policies approach, the resolution calls for a “Health in All Policies Task Force to identify and pursue opportunities to improve health, including but not limited to affordable, safe, and healthy housing; active living and transportation; access to healthy food; clean air, water, and soil; parks, recreation, and green spaces; economic opportunity; and safety and violence prevention”.
 
In addition to providing testimony, Health & Medicine staff worked with CDPH on a couple of edits to the resolution.  For example, we encouraged that the resolution notes structural racism as a causal factor for health inequities.
 
Provided that the resolution is passed by the Committee and City Council, success of this resolution in helping reduce health inequities and move the city toward health equity will rely on Mayoral, City Council and City Department leadership actively considering health impacts in decision-making and acting to integrate the goal of health equity into their decision-making regarding policies, practices, and programs. If successful, this could be a significant step forward for advancing the health of Chicagoans and it is a strong early step for implementation of Healthy Chicago 2.0.
 
Supporting all people’s health requires acting to ameliorate the maldistribution of money, power, and resources that shape people’s living conditions and ensuring equitable opportunities for all Chicagoans.  Taking on and changing the structural inequities in our economy, policing, education, transportation, and healthcare system (just for starters) are paramount for moving toward health equity.  Although it doesn’t fully address these, Healthy Chicago 2.0 includes some ideas for making progress on these areas.  The Health In All Policies Task Force should build on these recommendations further to try to make progress on Chicago’s extreme inequities—including those outside of health systems—that perpetuate health inequities.