Topic: Coincidental plan-making: The missed integration of rural and health policies in Danish village planning
Keywords: Rural health, citizen participation, village plans, municipal health policies, municipal rural policies
Studies have shown that people in Danish rural areas practice less sports and move less than people in the cities and that citizens in rural-dominated municipalities on several parameters have a poorer health status than citizens in urban municipalities. This paper aims to investigate whether there is a potential for co-creation of a shared health effort between rural village communities and municipalities to solve the challenge with the poorer health of the rural population. It takes its point of departure in three case study areas where villages have prepared village plans with a health focus. By use of document studies of village plans and municipal health and rural policies and interviews with villagers, public administrators and politicians in the municipalities, the paper analyses the extent to which coordination of village plans and municipal rural policies and health policies has taken place and addresses the local’s and the municipalities’ views on opportunities and barriers of further integration of health initiatives. Theoretically, the article builds on literature dealing with bridging between and integration of community-led planning and planning at higher tiers of governance. The results show that there is room for a better coordination and that municipalities can support the local efforts but must not infect or trump local energies. There is still a long way before that is a danger, as there is not much contact between the municipalities and the local communities in relation to their health efforts. The results also show, that including health in village plans is not only about health, but also about rural development. Health can be used as a rural development motivation if a village succeed in twisting what the community focus is about.