New publication on the participatory process used to develop the Trentino health plan

In December 2015, the Autonomous Province of Trento in Italy adopted a strategic health plan for 2015−2025, broadening the concept of health and well-being in the Province from being solely cure-related to encompassing the social, economic and environmental determinants of health. This commitment resulted in a publication that will be presented during the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Regions for Health Network (RHN) to take place on 22–23 September 2016 in Kaunas, Lithuania.

This publication focuses on the process followed in developing the plan, including key government involvement, stakeholder participation and cross-sectoral collaboration, and describes the enabling factors and challenges experienced during the process.

The process followed in developing the plan filtered into all levels of government and society. The ground work towards the development of the Trentino health plan and for broadening the concept of health started in 2012. The plan has been aligned with the Health 2020 policy and the health-in-all-all-policies approach due to the Province’s membership in RHN and to assistance provided by the WHO European Office for Investment for Health and Development of WHO/Europe.

“The plan is the result of a process that lasted a couple of years, punctuated by many moments of discussion and participation that included more than 1200 submissions from institutions, organizations, associations and all citizens,” stated Luca Zeni, Health Councillor of the Autonomous Province of Trento. “The basis of the plan is, in essence, a participatory process that testify the real involvement of the Trentino population.”

The experience gained in developing the Trentino health plan resulted in 4 key messages.

  1. Data speak. The development process showed that sound and relevant epidemiological data are fundamental to successfully portraying the picture of what needs to be changed.
  2. Champions and political support are vital. The support of 2 health administrations in the course of the development process, combined with the champion role played by a technical government institute and the use of a participatory approach, provided the impetus to move the process forward.
  3. Participation is essential. The Trentino experience showed that involving the public and other sectors throughout the development process paved the way to healthy change and resulted in a health plan that citizens feel is truly theirs.
  4. Progress needs to be celebrated. Capitalizing on improvements made throughout the development process and disseminating information thereon encouraged more stakeholders to participate and motivated people to have their say.