Speakingout
Over the years, and without a doubt, there have been a plethora of health and safety related policies proposed, debated and even made into law in our recent history. These policies have as many people complaining about how bad they are for a community, businesses or our nation as celebrating their positive impact on society.
A common sense, local look at public health policy 110613 SPEAKINGOUT 1 SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium Over the years, and without a doubt, there have been a plethora of health and safety related policies proposed, debated and even made into law in our recent history. These policies have as many people complaining about how bad they are for a community, businesses or our nation as celebrating their positive impact on society.

Photo courtesy of Sitka Conservation Society

Daniel Adams enjoys a local rockfish taco during lunch at Mount Edgecumbe in Sitka

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Story last updated at 11/6/2013 - 1:37 pm

A common sense, local look at public health policy

Over the years, and without a doubt, there have been a plethora of health and safety related policies proposed, debated and even made into law in our recent history. These policies have as many people complaining about how bad they are for a community, businesses or our nation as celebrating their positive impact on society.

Who can forget the rating system on music and video games? What about New York's war on soft drinks that limited the size available at convenience stores, taxing "junk food" and tobacco, healthier school lunches, requiring certain restaurants to post nutrition information on menus, and of course, the Affordable Care Act, known less affectionately by its opponents as "Obamacare," mandating insurance coverage?

Less controversial policies, however, help Americans thrive and ensure efficiencies in everything from transportation to food safety to medical certifications. The truth is that there are thousands of proposed policies that make their way from a single person to a city council, or to a state government, and sometimes even to the White House. They run the gamut from those that make sense to everyone to those that don't appeal to anyone. Most of those go smoothly even when they are implemented because the overall benefits are obvious. Public health policy as a whole is generally not a negative thing and can have enormous positive impacts on communities.

Southeast Alaska's SouthEast Regional Health Consortium has had a hand in public health policy for many years and for the most part by way of helping individual communities both develop policies that make sense for those that live there as well as assisting those communities in finding a way to pay for the initiatives they want implemented.

SEARHC has done an excellent job of creating partnerships by working with many groups in the region to help spread out the available dollars where the money is needed. One of the ways this happens is in the form of opportunities like the Community Transformation Grants offered by the CDC. As the name implies, these grants are intended for programs that help literally transform a community.

SEARHC believes strongly in the efficiency and empowerment that comes with local groups taking on their own issues and creating their own long-term solutions. While these groups that wish to facilitate change may not know all of the in's and out's of grant-writing or pitching the ideas to be awarded grants, SEARHC is there for help all along the way.

So, what types of new policies have come out of these partnerships? Initiatives like scratch cooked meals for school meals service and local fish being served in school lunches instead of highly processed foods with low nutritional value. Worksite breastfeeding and worksite wellness policies are being tried as well as school wellness committees. To increase access to physical activity, schools have integrated the establishment of clubs in schools, like a bike club, snowshoeing club and a softball club.

While the cost for implementing some of these programs is relatively small, others are markedly more expensive. In each case, however, the programs could not exist without some sort of funding. SEARHC is a helpful and instrumental partner that allows cities and organizations the opportunity to venture out past the status quo and make some positive and long-lasting changes for the health of their community.


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