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Sustainability Plan / Human Health / Introduction

 The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion defines the fundamental conditions and resources for health as “peace, shelter, education, food, income, a stable ecosystem, sustainable resources, social justice, and equity.” This vantage point expresses the unavoidable connections between all aspects of society and the natural world.

In order to focus this broad understanding toward
creating social change that leads to a healthy urban environment, this section focuses primarily on those aspects of the environment that can directly lead to improvement in people’s physical, mental and emotional well-being. This goal depends on social and environmental change that leads to better health. It may be pursued by reducing negative aspects of life, such as violence, drug abuse, disease, and pollution; and by increasing attributes that lead to health, such as personal responsibility, appropriate medical care, and access to green spaces and fresh, organically grown food. Clean air for exercise, physical education, and recreational opportunities all have a role to play. (Please see the Air Quality, Energy, and Transportation sections for further discussion of clean air.) While the issue of homelessness is beyond the defined scope of this planning effort, it is recognized that this condition has an important impact on human health, and should be addressed in a plan independent of this document.

To achieve a sustainable society, environmental, cultural, and institutional barriers to good health must be removed and appropriate health care services must be equitably distributed throughout the city. A primary value underlying these goals is that
no individual or group should bear a disproportionate health burden or abridge another group’s health. Care-providers themselves should reflect the diversity of San Francisco, and the types of care available should include therapies that reflect the diverse traditions of the community. This approach will ensure an environment for health and care of illness that is appropriate to the human spirit as well as the human body.

Perhaps most importantly, public awareness must be increased about resources, rights and responsibilities related to health maintenance. Health professionals and educators must provide the information and motivation that can help people take more responsibility for their own health. Insurers must provide the economic context that makes it possible for people to secure preventative guidance.
The focus of achieving public health should shift very strongly to prevention, while maintaining and improving the remediation services that will be needed during and after the long transition toward a more healthful society.

The following goals, objectives and actions address some of the factors that have an impact on human health. Since “human health” is a topic of very wide scope,
the intention in this section is to highlight the connection between human health and the health of the environment. A collaboration between environmentalists and health professionals is critical to the implementation of this plan.

Many of the data on existing conditions and the objectives proposed in the following material came from the federal government’s health-promotion report, Healthy People 2000. However, some of the specifics of this plan have not been researched for the local area, and objectives are based on the best judgment of the group drafting this section. References noted in the text follow the matrix. Numbers for which references are not given, (which have been cited to the nearest digit) come from San Francisco SB 697 Community Needs Assessment, The Indicator Data Report
[ref 4].