Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Project HEALTH

We can support innovative models like Project HEALTH, which empowers doctors to remove the social barriers that prevent people from taking the actions they need to be healthy. They literally write prescriptions for food or heating assistance for struggling families, or stable housing for a single mom that does not exacerbate her son's asthma. A dedicated team of college volunteers then helps connect vulnerable patients to local resources that can immediately benefit their health.

We can apply new public health tools at our disposal to see the potential health benefits and consequences of new projects and policies. If Denver decided to expand its light rail system, for example, it would make sense to conduct a health impact assessment, an analysis that would consider questions like, "Will people walk more in getting to and from the rail stop?" This happened in Charlotte, N.C., where people who began to regularly ride the rails lost, on average, six to seven pounds.


We need a fundamental change in how we think about health. A nationwide commitment in which each sector - transportation, business , education, housing - assesses the health effects of their plans and programs and creates ways to help people live healthier lives. The community development arm of the Federal Reserve Board is doing just that; its July conference focused squarely on the health implications of housing development.

Read more about Project HEALTH here and here.

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