Refocusing Planning and Design to Maximize Public Health Benefits

Authored by: Richard J. Jackson , Rebecca Ferdman

The New Companion to Urban Design

Print publication date:  May  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138302129
eBook ISBN: 9780203731932
Adobe ISBN:


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Mounting evidence collected by the medical community, environmental health professionals, academic researchers, and others suggests that urban design and planning strategies can act as effective and cost-efficient public health interventions to address both acute and chronic health crises. By thoughtfully planning and designing housing, hospitals and healthcare facilities, schools, transportation, and green infrastructure as part of a public health infrastructure, both short-term and long-term public health gains can be made. This is especially true with regards to pressing health challenges including obesity-related illnesses, asthma, heat stress, and mental health disorders. To realize the potential health benefits of planning and design, an action agenda is needed both to lay out next steps and to build ownership of health-related issues within the planning and design professions. The action agenda presented here advocates for continuing to build upon the database of evidence for health impacts of the built environment, calls for a reevaluation of tax policy using the lens of public health, and suggests the development of an economic health metric as a tool for policymakers and decision makers. The action agenda also advocates for thoughtful implementation of an important health and planning tool, the Health Impact Assessment, that would also help urban design.

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