Intersectoral Policy Priorities for Health

Authors: David Watkins, Rachel Nugent, Gavin Yamey, Helen Saxenian, Charles Mock, Eduardo Gonzalez-Pier, Prabhat Jha, Ala Alwan, Dean Jamison

Abstract:

Proposes 29 concrete early steps that countries with highly constrained resources can take to address the major modifiable behavior and environmental risks while (1) touching on broader social policies addressing the consequences of ill health; (2) stressing that the need for such policies will increasingly place demands on public finance; (3) providing illustrative examples from Sri Lanka, Mexico, and Vietnam of successful health risk reduction through intersectoral policy; and (4) discussing various aspects of policy implementation. Despite the political barriers to developing an intersectoral agenda for health, not only does intersectoral action make sense, it also proves essential. Much of the reduction in health loss globally over the past few decades remains attributable to reductions in risk factors such as tobacco consumption and unsafe water that have seen implementation almost exclusively by actors outside the health sector. Many countries do not practice a Health in All Policies approach, and doing so proves especially challenging in many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) which face extreme resource constraints, low capacity, and weak governance and communication structures.