Community Planning with a Health Equity Lens: Promising Directions and Strategies
Community planning has the potential to reduce health inequities. Applying an equity lens to community health planning can encourage greater focus on the process, the implications, and suggested outcomes. Health inequalities are unavoidable; health inequities are differences in health outcomes that are avoidable. Efforts to create vibrant and healthy communities, cities, and neighbourhoods are prominent in a number of world initiatives. For healthy community planning to be supported and carried out in a meaningful way, a sustained political commitment is required. While the impact of equity focused tools on health equity outcomes has not been well documented, such tools have demonstrated success in identifying issues not previously considered in planning and in changing the way programs are implemented. The strength of community planning processes is their engagement of community members. Available data suggest six ways an equity lens can be applied to community planning for health: involve community members in the planning process; target specific populations in planning; monitor and evaluate outcomes; use equity focused tools; use incentives or policy levers; consider social determinants of health and how different determinants intersect.