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Report Makes Case for Investing in Healthy Communities

A new report makes the case for investing in healthy communities and cites Colorado programs that are working to do this. (Pixabay)
A new report makes the case for investing in healthy communities and cites Colorado programs that are working to do this. (Pixabay)
October 19, 2016

DENVER - Cutting-edge programs at work in Colorado show that reversing inequities in health and well-being is possible, according to a new report commissioned by the Colorado Health Foundation.

Colby Dailey, managing director of the Build Healthy Places Network, said efforts to overcome systemic barriers to health - such as poverty, lack of access to fresh produce, quality housing and education - are making a strong case for investments in wellness over pharmaceuticals, dialysis clinics and other treatments.

"Those things are important and they shouldn't go away," she said. "But there's an opportunity here to invest in things that keep people healthy, so that there isn't a need for all of the treatment, and there's a value to that."

She cited programs such as Pueblo Triple Aim, which has support from national projects Rethink Health and Invest Health, that are helping communities establish priorities and then connect to social-service agencies, nonprofits and health providers to achieve those goals.

Dailey said one of the biggest challenges is financing sustainable programs, but that nonprofit banks can play a critical role alongside the foundation community injecting what she called 'impact capital.' She said healthy people also have a big impact on local economies.

"They're able to be at work. They're able to be owning their own businesses," she said. "Health has a lot of economic implications, when you start thinking about what we're actually paying for when somebody's not able to access the things that keep them healthy."

Dailey said successful demonstration programs such as the ones at work in Colorado can be replicated in more states. She said she is hopeful that the report makes a strong case for bigger investments in strategies that could help more Americans live in healthy communities.

The report is online at buildhealthyplaces.org.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO