Policy and Advocacy for Improving Population Health
Health policy and advocacy involve all the processes and actions taken by individuals or groups in an attempt to bring about changes on behalf of the population with the goal of improving the population’s health. Policy and advocacy is one of the core disciplines of public health that shapes the social factors that shape the community’s health. Local policymakers are highly dependent on policymakers to develop and enact laws that promote safe health care. Health care teams and decision makers at the federal, state, and local levels are continuously proposing and discussing all sorts of issues that impact public health. Issues such as alcohol and tobacco prevention, seat belt laws, availing clean water for use, promoting healthy eating, among others. Once a current or future threat to public health is identified, a team of health advocates works on informing and influencing changes to ensure optimal population health.
With the continuously and rapidly changing healthcare system, decisions made regarding public health directly impact the future of healthcare systems, and the population’s health. These healthcare reforms can positively or negatively impact healthcare delivery, practice, and the health of the people. The experts are tasked with developing and evaluating policies related to the structure, resource allocation, and quality of health care delivery. These are very key and sensitive areas of healthcare which demands the experts and professionals involved to be very systematic when formulating the policies and reforms
Health advocacy can occur through various mediums, including social media, legislative, and grassroots efforts. Nurses, in collaboration with other health care professionals and the public, are in the frontline advocating on behalf of their patients. In nursing, health advocacy means that the nurse must always strive to promote and protect the health, safety, and rights of their patients.
But public health advocacy should not be solely be left in the hands of nurses and the experts. All of us, particularly those among us who are better informed in health matters, can positively impact public health. We can achieve this by educating the public and influencing expert leaders about critical and challenging health issues that we feel should be addressed within the society. Individuals have the chance and the power to be a voice to other less educated members of the community and communicate the internal issues affecting the people. But while individual health advocacy for a patient can be exercised, public health advocacy mainly focuses on promoting and improving the health of the community at large through enhanced policies and programs.
Summers, Lisa. “Making Change Sustainable: The Role of Policy and Advocacy.” The CenteringPregnancy Model: The Power of Group Health Care (2016): 165.
SUNDEAN, LISA J. “ADVOCACY AND POLICY ROLES FOR NURSES IN POPULATION HEALTH.” Population Health for Nurses: Improving Community Outcomes (2019).
Williams, S., J. Phillips, and Kirk Koyama. “Nurse advocacy: Adopting a health in all policies approach.” Online Journal of Issues in Nursing 23.3 (2018).