What is health?
When communities are asked, they include things like financial security, safety, nourishing relationships and being able to do what matters to them.
The health sector defines health as the absence of disease, measured biologically. It conceptualizes the above as the ‘social determinants of health’ – the social conditions that pose a risk to health.
Yet research has made clear that risk factors alone cannot fully explain why people are healthy or sick. The missing link is whether people have a sense of control over their lives. This requires 'agency' – the ability to make purposeful choices.
Our aim is to grow the field of practice that fosters the agency of communities as a way to improve health.
With health care costs rising dramatically, risk factor based approaches struggling, and health disparities continuing to widen, it’s time to recognize fostering community agency as key to the future of health.
- Verdant Healthier Communities Conference, Lynnwood WA, March 12, 2018
- Kongress Armut und Gesundheit (Poverty and Health Congress), Berlin, Germany, March 20-21, 2018