November 2016; Volume 35, Issue 11
Issue Focus: Culture Of Health
Creating Healthier, More Equitable Communities By Improving Governance And Policy
Tamara Dubowitz, Tracy Orleans, Christopher Nelson, Linnea Warren May, Jennifer C. Sloan, and Anita Chandra
How can healthier, more equitable communities be created? This is a key question for public health. Even though progress has been made in understanding the impact of social, physical, and policy factors on population health, there is much room for improvement. With this in mind, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation made creating healthier, more equitable communities the third of four Action Areas in its Culture of Health Action Framework. This Action Area focuses on the interplay of three drivers—the physical environment, social and economic conditions, and policy and governance—in influencing health equity. In this article we review some of the policy and governance challenges confronting decisionmakers as they seek to create healthy communities on a broad scale. We use these challenges as a framework for understanding where the most critical gaps still exist, where the links could be exploited more effectively, and where there are opportunities for further research and policy development.
A Culture Of Health And Human Rights
Wendy K. Mariner1,* and George J. Annas2
A culture of health can be seen as a social norm that values health as the nation’s priority or as an appeal to improve the social determinants of health. Better population health will require changing social and economic policies. Effective changes are unlikely unless health advocates can leverage a framework broader than health to mobilize political action in collaboration with non–health sector advocates. We suggest that human rights—the dominant international source of norms for government responsibilities—provides this broader framework. Human rights, as expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and enforceable treaties, require governments to assure their populations nondiscriminatory access to food, water, education, work, social security, and a standard of living adequate for health and well-being. The policies needed to realize human rights also improve population health, well-being, and equity. Aspirations for human rights are strong enough to endure beyond inevitable setbacks to specific causes.
Insights Into Collaborative Networks Of Nonprofit, Private, And Public Organizations That Address Complex Health Issues
Rachel A. Hogg1,* and Danielle Varda2
Community networks that include nonprofit, public, and private organizations have formed around many health issues, such as chronic disease management and healthy living and eating. Despite the increases in the numbers of and funding for cross-sector networks, and the growing literature about them, there are limited data and methods that can be used to assess their effectiveness and analyze their designs. We addressed this gap in knowledge by analyzing the characteristics of 260 cross-sector community health networks that collectively consisted of 7,816 organizations during the period 2008–15. We found that nonprofit organizations were more prevalent than private firms or government agencies in these networks. Traditional types of partners in community health networks such as hospitals, community health centers, and public health agencies were the most trusted and valued by other members of their networks. However, nontraditional partners, such as employer or business groups and colleges or universities, reported contributing relatively high numbers of resources to their networks. Further evidence is needed to inform collaborative management processes and policies as a mechanism for building what the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation describes as a culture of health.
Modeling The Economic Burden Of Adult Vaccine-Preventable Diseases In The United States
Sachiko Ozawa, Allison Portnoy, Hiwote Getaneh, Samantha Clark, Maria Knoll, David Bishai, H. Keri Yang, and Pallavi D. Patwardhan
Health Aff November 2016 35:2124-2132; published ahead of print October 12, 2016, doi:10.1377/hlthaff.2016.0462
Vaccines save thousands of lives in the United States every year, but many adults remain unvaccinated. Low rates of vaccine uptake lead to costs to individuals and society in terms of deaths and disabilities, which are avoidable, and they create economic losses from doctor visits, hospitalizations, and lost income. To identify the magnitude of this problem, we calculated the current economic burden that is attributable to vaccine-preventable diseases among US adults. We estimated the total remaining economic burden at approximately $9 billion (plausibility range: $4.7–$15.2 billion) in a single year, 2015, from vaccine-preventable diseases related to ten vaccines recommended for adults ages nineteen and older. Unvaccinated individuals are responsible for almost 80 percent, or $7.1 billion, of the financial burden. These results not only indicate the potential economic benefit of increasing adult immunization uptake but also highlight the value of vaccines. Policies should focus on minimizing the negative externalities or spillover effects from the choice not to be vaccinated, while preserving patient autonomy.