When public health professionals and planners come together, communities benefit, the recent Plan4Health program found. Photo by Dobok, courtesy iStockphoto

When public health professionals and planners come together, communities benefit, the recent Plan4Health program found. Photo by Dobok, courtesy iStockphoto

Public health workers and planners often overlap in their goals: promoting safety, enhancing accessibility and evaluating the impact of the built environment on community health and well-being. But despite the common ground, public health and planning do not regularly work together.

“Planners care about healthy communities and are thinking about healthy, vibrant places, but don’t always have the lens of health as their first step,” APHA member Elizabeth Hartig, MA, project associate at the American Planning Association, told The Nation’s Health.

Conversely, a planner is not necessarily the first person someone in public health would contact about identifying food deserts or encouraging active transportation among community members, even though such outside expertise could be useful.

Thanks to a partnership between APHA and the American Planning Association that was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, experts in public health and planning across the country now have a deeper understanding of how each side plays a role in creating healthy communities.

To continue reading this story from the January 2018 issue of The Nation’s Health, visit the newspaper online.