Presenting a New Vision for Public Health in the 21st Century: a PI Analysis prepared for Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
“When the next national elections happen, what would it take for us to see the headline ‘This year’s elections may hinge on neighborhood health’?”
Today, a renewed movement for healthy communities and healthy people is emerging. It recognizes that health and well-being begins in communities and that it takes more than healthcare services to make people and communities healthy. It encompasses a new vision for public health.
“Getting a real fix on the climate means you have to talk to more than the usual suspects.”
Over the past year, Prevention Institute, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, interviewed more than 50 leaders who work within public health, active transportation, business, children and youth, economic development, housing, healthcare, faith communities, philanthropy and other sectors to gather ideas on how we can more fully achieve the promise of healthy, safe and equitable communities. Their thought-provoking comments (some of which are scattered throughout this alert) helped us shape a coherent strategy for how public health can thrive in the 21st century.
“At the heart of every issue is a public health issue.”
We explored questions like these: What will it take to move our nation in the direction of greater health, safety and equity for all? How can the public health field work more effectively alongside community members and leaders, healthcare providers and other stakeholders to achieve this goal? And how can the field strengthen its ties to the community and increase its political influence?
“The skills it takes to achieve community change include reading the political climate and leveraging power in a positive way.”
Along the way, we heard bold ideas and collectively imagined new ways to overcome persistent challenges. Based on this input, and our own extensive experience working in communities across the country, we shaped Towards a 21st Century Approach: Advancing a Vision for Prevention and Public Health. In it, we propose a concrete set of approaches to advance prevention and the public’s health and to achieve thriving communities. We identified six critical elements:
- Engage more deeply with community institutions and leaders outside public health.
- Seek solutions that flow from the grassroots.
- Engage healthcare institutions and leaders in changing community environments.
- Engage business in promoting the community’s health.
- Change the community environment so that good health becomes the default.
- Build a shared movement by broadcasting a new vision of opportunity and change.
We gathered insightful comments along the way, and many of them went in the direction of realigning the role of public health and increasing its connection to our communities. We couldn’t agree more.
Our goal now is to catalyze systematic work and thought in every community and we hope you’ll join the effort. We’ll be tweeting about this in the coming days using the hashtag #Vision21, posting ideas and comments on Facebook, and hosting a roundtable discussion about this new vision on Monday Nov. 4 at the APHA annual meeting in Boston. We’ll also be writing about it in blogs and alerts like this one in the coming months. We’d love to hear your input and thoughts as well. Please read and share the report and send your comments and questions to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.