The Office of Local and Regional Health works collaboratively with the Office of Community Health Planning and Engagement and the Office of Health Equity to ensure that local public health has the opportunity to actively participate in community health needs assessments, community health improvement planning, and coalition-based activities that address health disparities and the social determinants of health in their communities. Public health organizations on the local level can mobilize community partners, build coalitions, facilitate partnerships and provide assistance to communities to solve health problems.
Community health needs assessment and community health improvement planning are
- important elements of voluntary accreditation of local health departments by the Public Health Accreditation Board and
- requirements of non-profit hospitals under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Local boards of health are important contributors to understanding the health needs of their communities and developing policies and other strategies identified in community health improvement plans.
Every community experiences health disparities and health inequities that are most effectively addressed through collaboration among key community stakeholders. Particularly in communities where disparities/inequities and the social determinants of health are well-documented, local public health can play an important role in mobilizing resources to address local needs.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health provides support to some municipalities through competitive grants for community-based initiatives. For example,
- DPH works with selected communities to promote healthy eating and active living through the Mass in Motion program;
- The Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund supports community-based partnerships including municipalities, healthcare systems, businesses, regional planning organizations, and schools to reduce health care costs by preventing chronic conditions;
The Massachusetts Overdose Prevention Collaborative Grant Program implements local policy, practice, systems and environmental change to address opioid use/abuse. The program provides financial support for groups of municipalities to enter into formal, long term agreements to share resources and coordinate activities in order to increase the scope of this work and capacity of municipalities to address these issues among their combined populations;
- The Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program (MTCP) supports tobacco control policies and programs at the local and regional level; and
- The School Health Program builds public and private partnerships to strengthen the capacity of municipalities to provide effective, culturally appropriate and responsive school health services.
The Community Health Training Institute provides targeted skills development to individuals and teams building healthy communities in Massachusetts. The Institute customizes their in-person trainings and webinars around core competencies and relevant topics including community health improvement planning and health equity. To better serve coalitions across the Commonwealth, DPH and the Community Health Training Institute have developed a coalition finder to assist community partners with increased access to resources, training, and peer-to-peer communication.”
This information is provided by the Department of Public Health.