Track 5 - Healthy Populations and Communities (Chronic Disease

Infectious Disease & Resilience)

Sharing Session - 30 Minutes

E13 - Harris County Public Health’s Innovative Creation and Integration of the Built Environment Unit

Wednesday, July 11
1:30 PM - 2:00 PM
Location: Riverview 1

The Built Environment includes all of the physical parts where individuals live, learn, work, worship and play. The built environment can directly affect human health by influencing rates of physical activity, fresh fruit and vegetable consumption and exposure to air pollutants. Therefore, the design of communities play a key role in disease prevention and health promotion.

Harris County Public Health has created a new and innovative unit within the Environmental Public Health Division that focuses on upstream solutions to address health through the built environment at a population level using a Health in All Policies approach. The creation of a team dedicated to working on issues related to the health impacts of the built environment is unique among Local Health Departments within the United States. The Built Environment Unit is actively engaged in policy and planning processes across Harris County, Texas to ensure that health and equity are a consideration in all decisions. The unit works closely with other agencies at the county, city and local level, such as Harris County Engineering, City of Houston Planning Department, and other organizations to bring public health to the forefront. In addition to traditional Health Impact Assessments (HIAs), the Built Environment unit has created a process for health impact reviews (HIRs) to evaluate the health impacts of proposed plans and policies on communities. The rapid nature of HIRs coupled with its inherent flexibility allow for application into a broad range of topics, including response to natural disasters such as Hurricane Harvey.

Keywords

Health in All Policies (HiAP), Partnerships & Collaborations, Community Health Assessment

Parul Pillai, MPH

Built Environment Program Manager
Harris County Public Health

Parul Pillai, MPH is the Program Manager for the Built Environment Unit at Harris County Public Health. She has a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology with a Minor in Speech Communication from the University of Georgia and a Master of Public Health with a concentration of Environmental Health Sciences from the University of Michigan. She leads the Built Environment Unit in applying a health lens to plans and policies by conducting Health Impact Assessments and Health Impact Reviews.

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E13 - Harris County Public Health’s Innovative Creation and Integration of the Built Environment Unit

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