Cape Gazette
http://capegazette.villagesoup.com/p/927723

Coalition to conduct first health impact assessment in Delaware

Nov 28, 2012

Delaware Greenways and the Environment and Policy Committee of Delaware’s Coalition for Healthy Eating and Active Living, in partnership with the Division of Public Health and other agencies, will be conducting the first health impact assessment in Delaware.

This is groundbreaking work, with the potential to change the way land-use and transportation planning decisions are made in Delaware. HIAs identify the health-related impacts of decisions in nonhealth sectors and help decision makers and the public understand the full consequences of particular policies, plans and projects.

Delaware Greenways was one of three awardees across the country to receive a grant from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials to conduct an HIA and build capacity for HIA in state health agencies. “Delaware’s broad coalition of public health advocates coming from diverse organizations, including the state health agency and nonprofits, to work on public health and health impact assessment is one of the strengths of the project,” said Nancy Goff, ASTHO director of environmental health.

Delaware HEAL brings the resources and commitment of more than 70 organizations and more than 200 individual members to work toward transforming the culture of Delaware to make healthy eating and active living priorities. The coalition’s environment and policy committee, cochaired by Andrea Trabelsi of Delaware Greenways and Connie Holland of the Office of State Planning Coordination, includes representatives from the Department of Health and Social Services, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, University of Delaware’s Institute for Public Administration, Nemours Health and Prevention Services, Department of Transportation, Delaware State Housing Authority, WILMAPCO and the American Institute of Architects Delaware Chapter.

In May 2010, Gov. Jack Markell signed Executive Order 19, creating the Council on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.  In January 2012, the council released its first recommendations, which included broad strategies and a comprehensive approach to achieving better public health outcomes. The council’s report recommended health impact assessment as a strategy for achieving the overarching goal of including health in all policies.

“Only 10 percent of health problems are actually directly related to an individual’s healthcare,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, DPH director. “The other 90 percent are related to other determinants of health, including environment, housing, employment, poverty, education and more." Delaware is one of 13 states in which an HIA has not yet been conducted, according to the records of self-reported projects at the Health Impact Project.

Delaware’s first HIA will analyze plans for the Fort DuPont Redevelopment Project near Delaware City. The HIA Advisory Team had its first meeting Nov. 1 to shape its work plan and kick off the HIA. The assessment is expected to be completed by April 2013.

Delaware Greenways is a statewide nonprofit organization committed to the preservation and enhancement of Delaware’s natural, scenic, historical, cultural and recreational resources. Go to www.delawaregreenways.org.

As a division of Delaware Health and Social Services, DPH’s vision is healthy people in healthy communities.

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