Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

Putting Health at the Heart of Local Planning Through an Integrated Municipal Health Strategy

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Abstract:  As a cross-sectoral issue, the promotion of health needs to be addressed across all policies. In Portugal, as more competencies are being transferred to local governments, the integration of health considerations into municipal plans remains a challenge and guidance on how to develop an integrated municipal health strategy is absent. The aim of this study is to describe the conceptual and methodological approach that informed the development of an integrated and multisectoral municipal health strategy in the City of Coimbra. Its design followed a population health approach with a geographic lens, looking at how the population’s health outcomes and health determinants were geographically distributed across the municipality, as well as the extent to which policies from multiple sectors can address them. The planning cycle followed an iterative workflow of five actions: assessing, prioritizing, planning, implementing, and monitoring. Following a participatory planning approach, several participatory processes were conducted involving local stakeholders and citizens (e.g., population-based surveys, workshops, Delphi, collaborative sessions) to identify problems, establish priorities, and define measures and actions. The strategic framework for action integrates 94 actions across multisectoral domains of municipal intervention: sustainable mobility and public places, safe and adequate housing, accessible healthcare, social cohesion and participation, education and health literacy, and intersectoral and collaborative leadership. Findings shed light on important aspects that can inform other municipal strategies, such as the adoption of a place-based approach, focused on geographic inequalities, health determinants and stakeholder participation, and the application of a health in all policies framework.

Keywords:  Coimbra; health determinants; health in all policies; local government; participatory governance; place-based approach; stakeholder involvement



© Angela Freitas, Paula Santana. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.