What makes a Healthy Community?
Healthy Communities/Healthy Cities (HC) is an international movement that involves thousands of HC projects, initiatives and networks world-wide. HC takes a holistic view of communities, recognizing that “everything is connected to everything” and “the whole is more than the sum of its parts”. Healthy Communities initiatives are multi-sectoral collaborations that integrate social, economic and environmental goals to benefit the whole community and strengthen community capacity to promote and sustain health.
OHCC promotes healthy community principles across all sectors, providing support, facilitation, resources and tools to communities that are pursuing local Healthy Communities goals.
Healthy Communities are based on the following principles:
- Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being.
- Social, environmental and economic factors are important determinants of human health and are inter-related.
- People cannot achieve their fullest potential unless they are able to take control of those things which determine their well-being.
- All sectors of the community are inter-related; sectors need to share their knowledge, expertise and perspectives and work together to create a healthy community.
A Healthy Communities process involves:
- Equitable community engagement
- Intersectoral partnerships
- Political commitment
- Healthy public policy
- Asset-based community development
Qualities of a Healthy Community include:
- Clean and safe physical environment
- Peace, equity and social justice
- Adequate access to food, water, shelter, income, safety, work and recreation for all
- Adequate access to health care services
- Opportunities for learning and skill development
- Strong, mutually supportive relationships and networks
- Workplaces that are supportive of individual and family well-being
- Wide participation of residents in decision-making
- Strong local cultural and spiritual heritage
- Diverse and vital economy
- Protection of the natural environment
- Responsible use of resources to ensure long term sustainability
These principles have been adapted from the work of Trevor Hancock and Leonard Duhl. They are discussed in more detail, with references to earlier documents, in a report Dr. Hancock prepared for the Senate Subcommittee on Population Health in March 2009.entitled Act Locally: Community-based population health promotion.