Healthy People: The Role of Law and Policy in the Nation's Public Health Agenda

Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 47 (S2):63-67 (2019)
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Each decade since 1979, the Healthy People initiative establishes the national prevention agenda and provides the foundation for disease prevention and health promotion policies and programs. Law and policy have been included in Healthy People objectives from the start, but not integrated into the overall initiative as well as possible to potentially leverage change to meet Healthy People targets and goals. This article provides background on the Healthy People initiative and its use among various stakeholder groups, describes the work of a project aiming to better integrate law and policy into this initiative, and discusses the development of Healthy People 2030 — the next iteration of health goals for the nation. Lessons from the preliminary stages of developing Healthy People by the HHS Secretary's Advisory Committee on National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives for 2030 and a Federal Interagency Workgroup will be included. Efforts by the Committee focused on the role of law and policy as determinants of health and valuable resources around health equity are also shared. Finally, the article discusses ways that law and policy can potentially be tools to help meet Healthy People targets and to attain national health goals.



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