FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 11, 2024
Board of Health passes resolution to improve community well-being
In a landmark decision, the Island County Board of Health has adopted a resolution intended to improve community well-being.
In adopting a Health in All Policies (HiAP) resolution, Island County aims to advance health equity, consider health implications in all policymaking, identify gaps in access to resources and expand social drivers of health.
“This is a collaborative approach that brings health considerations into policymaking across various sectors, jurisdictions, and levels of government, recognizing that health is influenced by factors beyond traditional healthcare,” said Island County Public Health Director Dr. Shawn Morris, ND.
“Adoption of the HiAP resolution by the Board of Health marks a significant step, laying the groundwork for effective partnerships and policy coordination. I commend the Board of Health members for taking this proactive, community-centered approach, Morris said.
“The resolution reflects a transformative approach to public health,” Morris said. “This approach centers key factors that influence health, well-being, and quality of life, including the conditions in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age.”
The resolution underscores the need for policies that address the root causes of health disparities, promoting comprehensive and coordinated strategies to improve community well-being. It also calls on policymakers to consider unintended harms that may result from policy decisions while taking an inclusive approach by increasing engagement with under-represented community members.
HiAP advocates for policies that consider economic development, employment opportunities, educational access, social connection, housing conditions, access to nutritious foods, recreational opportunities, community engagement, and other social factors, Morris explained. This holistic perspective acknowledges that health outcomes are influenced by factors beyond healthcare and emphasizes cross-sector collaboration.
HiAP also focuses on achieving health equity, addressing disparities that arise from social, economic, and environmental factors that influence health outcomes and quality of life, according to Morris.
Island County aims to work with community partners, including the island’s cities and towns, public officials, and policymakers to address the root causes of health inequities and drive meaningful change, Morris added.
Because of the vital importance of health equity, the Board of Health has asked all public agencies, departments, and jurisdictions to take a HiAP approach in policymaking. Current examples include centering health equity in the Island County Comprehensive Plan update and the Community Health Assessment, while taking a stepwise approach to considering equity implications in planned regulatory code revisions.
The Island County Board of Health is comprised of seven members, including all three county commissioners, Oak Harbor’s mayor, a hospital district commissioner, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island’s commanding officer for Navy Medical Readiness and Training and Island County Health Officer Dr. Howard Leibrand, MD.
• For more information, contact Island County Public Health Director Dr. Shawn Morris, ND, at 360-679-7345 or email S.MorrisND@islandcountywa.gov.