San Francisco: Community Partnership Develops Ambitious Public Health Policies on Alcohol
University of California San Francisco (UCSF) has worked strategically with community partners in the San Francisco Health Improvement Partnership (SFHIP) to enact high-impact policies, such as banning sugar-sweetened beverages from hospitals, to improve public health and reduce health inequities in the city, according to a new study.
The study by SFHIP, which includes UCSF, the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH), the San Francisco Hospital Council, ethnic-based community health equity coalitions, and other stakeholders, examined progress on three prevention initiatives:
- Reducing the consumption of sugar sweetened beverages,
- Regulating retail alcohol sales, and
- Eliminating disparities in children’s oral health.
Connecting academia and grass-roots
The researchers found that SFHIP influenced policymakers by presenting scientific evidence and also by activating a coalition of community partners in support of their proposals. The policy makers then enacted regulations and policies with the ambitious aim of reducing health inequities in San Francisco.
Getting people from diverse sectors and perspectives to get out of their comfort zones to work together towards shared community health goals has been the key to the success of SHIP,” said Kevin Grumbach, MD, chair of the UCSF Department of Family and Community Medicine, Hellman Endowed Professor of Family and Community Medicine, and an author of the study.
We realized we needed to do better to improve the health of our community, and invested the time and good will to figure out how to do this together instead of continuing to work in siloes.”
Partnership and community mobilization: Tackling Alcohol Harms
When Taco Bell and Starbucks tried to get liquor licenses in San Francisco, SFHIP demonstrated the association between alcohol-related harm, such as injuries, violence and public disturbance, and having a high concentration of alcohol outlets. The SFHIP Alcohol Policy Partnership Working Group (APPWG), composed of community-based organizations, the SFDPH, the San Francisco Police Department, and other stakeholders, used mapping tools and research studies to communicate evidence with policy makers, and also raised safety concerns about the emergence of powdered alcohol.
SFHIP’s community-driven response, in concert with efforts by local law enforcement and other public health partners, helped pass a state law banning the sale of powdered alcohol, a unanimous resolution by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors urging the state not to issue licenses in San Francisco to a specific class of alcohol retailers, and the withdrawal of alcohol license applications in San Francisco by Starbucks and Taco Bell.