As President-Elect Donald Trump and his team lay the groundwork for the new Administration, it is worth noting that there is one thing both major parties’ presidential candidates agreed on in their hard-fought campaigns, and that’s infrastructure. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump called for greater investment in our nation’s roads, bridges, transportation systems, energy grid, and water systems. In looking for opportunities to work across parties, upgrading America’s aging infrastructure is a great place to start . In fact, Mr. Trump specifically called out infrastructure improvement in his victory speech.
Something he hasn’t yet talked about is the health benefits that could arise from these proposed investments. Flint, Michigan, laid bare the deplorable state of some communities’ water systems and the very real health impacts resulting from poor water quality. Less obvious, perhaps, are health sequelae that result from poor infrastructure. Chronic hypertension worsened by long commutes on overcrowded, potholed roads. Asthma exacerbated by particulates from antiquated, inefficient power plants. Long-term learning decrements—leading to lowered economic potential and physical and mental wellbeing—that can result from the mold, lead paint, and bad water afflicting so many of our schools. All these health consequences are preventable.
If I had a few minutes with the next President, I’d draw a solid line connecting infrastructure and health… I’d advise a “health in all policies” approach and confidently predict that the benefits will multiply.
If I had a few minutes with the next President, I’d draw a solid line connecting infrastructure and health. And I’d strongly encourage bold thinking that would incorporate health and wellbeing as a vital requirement for infrastructure improvement funds. I’d advise a “health in all policies” approach and confidently predict that the benefits will multiply. Like infrastructure, a sound foundation grounded in health and well-being will deliver dividends years into the future . If federal dollars support road improvements, include a set-aside for safe, accessible bike lanes and cross-walks. When schools are remediated, let’s commit funds to modernize outdoor play spaces to encourage physical activity for kids – and their families and community members too. By incentivizing local healthy food production, transportation time and environmental impact are reduced – and institutional nutrition improves in schools, nursing homes and public hospitals, jails and prisons. A creative, comprehensive infrastructure plan will incorporate health in all aspects, and Americans will reap the benefits in improved health and wellbeing and reduced health spending. That’s a win-win for everyone. And it’s something both parties can agree on.