But why does working for community change matter?
“Health starts where we live, learn, work and play” contends Sir Michael Marmot, a leading public health expert. Research has shown that the place where you’re born, raised and live is critical to your and your family’s health throughout life.
But that only captures a small part of the story. It fails to recognise the immense influence that our environment has on our daily choices and ability to easily choose the healthier option. Access to green space, fast food, transportation, fresh food, social connectedness: all these factors influence health. This is particularly true for disadvantaged communities, where healthy food options and opportunities for physical activity may be non-existent or unrealistic.
We believe that working with community members – who are the experts in their own health needs and their environment – is the best way to break down the barriers to living a healthy life and to create sustainable change.
The World Health Organization agrees. Its Global Action Plan on NCDs 2013-2020 stresses that ‘empowerment of people and communities’ is essential in addressing the NCD epidemic.