While it is important to eat well, exercise, and see a doctor regularly, our health is tied to a number of other factors. It is essential to push for social changes that will improve the quality of everyday life and, in then, the health of our families, friends, neighbors, and co-workers.
One way to address inequities in systems and institutions influencing community health is to work on changing policies or practices that have unfair impacts and to implement policies and practices focused on equity. Policies are sets of rules that establish guidelines for behaviors, interactions, influence, and power. Policies exist and are enforced on multiple levels- families have policies (curfews, chores), public officials make and uphold policies (smoking regulations, traffic laws, etc.), and institutions and organizations have policies that govern the way they operate. Some policies can have positive or negative effects on our housing conditions, food environments, and the physical space in our neighborhoods, as well as our access to resources such as education and jobs. Policies can support turning vacant lots into community gardens and limit the advertising and availability of junk good while increasing access to healthy affordable foods. Policies can ensure street lights and cross walks are put up and maintained to support walking and biking. Policies can promote health equity by targeting what's unfair and regulating improvements in things like air quality, transportation design and job and educational opportunities.
ABOUT THE ZIP CODE CAMPAIGN Health equity requires addressing the root causes of health inequity by engaging in policy, systems, and environmental change. We know that there are hundreds of organizations across the city doing this work.
A few years ago, the Boston Public Health Commission launched a city-wide Health Equity Campaign. You may have seen its billboards, posters and MBTA signs with zip codes on them on your daily commute. The purpose of this campaign launch was to bring awareness to the idea that health is more than healthcare, genetics, or personal behavior and that Boston is a city of neighborhoods, each with their assets and challenges. Health is also shaped by where we live, work and play and the opportunities in those neighborhoods to access healthy food, education, employment, healthy housing and transportation.
Since the campaign’s launch, we have heard from many Boston residents who have been inspired to take action. As a next step to the campaign initiative, we have launched this website that features videos, profiles, information about organizations, initiatives and policies and more data about the health of each neighborhood. Achieving health equity requires that we create opportunities for all of our city’s residents to reach their optimal health. Join us in creating a space where residents across Boston can share strategies and take action as part of a collaborative effort to achieve health equity.