The environment in which people live, work, and learn has a profound impact on health, but policies and programs that shape environments generally fall outside the jurisdiction of health agencies. The Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment Office of Health Equity (COHE) is testing a variety of strategies to build buy-in for using a “health in all policies” (HiAP) approach. COHE’s ultimate aim is to sustain improvements in the social determinants of health by addressing equity across state agencies. To that end, activities for this innovation are focused on spurring cross-disciplinary networks and policy/systems level changes.
Don’t shy away from testing simultaneous activities, even if all the answers aren’t clear up front. It sometimes works better to “build the plane while flying.” It may not be feasible to adopt every piece of our project, but any state or jurisdiction could adopt/adapt individual pieces to a local context, e.g. the Equity Action Guide methods could easily be adapted to public health assessments and improvement plans. COHE recommends leading Health in All Policies approaches with an equity lens rather than a health lens in order to prevent unintentionally creating wider health disparities. It is also important to hire dedicated staff who are familiar with managing systems-level change and cross-disciplinary collaboration.