Our greatest health challenges and solutions are highly complex and extend beyond the doctor’s office. Health is created in our communities – with walkable communities, access to healthy foods, safe places to play and learn, good jobs and transportation to get there. We must consider the health impact of decision-making across sectors, in order to address the root causes of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other leading causes of illness.
It is important to assess how our decisions impact different communities – are people more likely to benefit depending on where they live, their income, gender, color of their skin, or citizenship status? If we aren’t intentional about addressing health disparities, we risk unintentionally widening them.
This is a priority because…
- Iowa’s health rank is 20th in the nation – a fall from 6th in 1990
- We have among the highest rates of obesity, excessive drinking and health disparities
- Improving the health of Iowans requires collaboration with experts in housing, transportation, education, water and air quality, criminal justice, and employment.
HiAP identifies how decisions in multiple sectors or policy areas affect health, and how better health can, in turn, support the goals of these sectors. It engages diverse governmental partners and stakeholders to work together to promote health and simultaneously advance other goals such as promoting job creation and economic stability, transportation access and mobility, a strong agricultural system, and educational attainment.
A key component that supports HiAP is the Health Impact Assessment (HIA), a data driven process that supports lawmakers to proactively enhance the positive impacts of policy decisions and mitigate the negative, well before health consequences are felt by Iowans and additional tax dollars are required to make corrections after implementation. HIAs have demonstrated cost-savings and improved health outcomes in a variety of issue areas, ranging from land use, housing and transportation projects to labor, education and economic policies.
National & International Resources