The Public Health Institute of Western MA (PHIWM) incorporates health policy in our coalition building initiatives in order to ensure the sustainability of outcomes and impact.

Advocacy Goals

  • Increase community awareness of “social determinants of health”; how where we live, work, play impacts health;
  • Build a broad-based coalition to work towards eliminating or reducing barriers to basic human needs that create health differences between populations.  Provide a voice and a vehicle for participation by the people most impacted by policies that either provide opportunity or barriers.
  • Educate policymakers about critical local public health issues.
  • Provide partners and community members with the latest data, updates on key public health issues and opportunities to take action.
  • Help local health departments communicate the value of local public health with their own policymakers.

PHIWM engages in policy advocacy at the state and local level in food systems, the built environment, neighborhoods and housing, tobacco (and marijuana) access, casino mitigation, air pollution, energy, and climate change and access to healthcare.

In addition to our ongoing policy priorities, PHIWM’s budding policy agenda includes increasing treatment options for substance use disorder and mental health in western MA, policies around youth mental health, and people with disabilities.


Current Policy Efforts

Expanded Demographic Data Collection about COVID-19

The PHIWM has written a letter to the MA Public Health Commission Bharel asking for the Governor's Executive Order requiring the collection of demographic information on COVID-19 be expanded to included other demographic information (race/ethnicity, disability status, language).  Learn more about PHIWM's request and the important of tracking the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19.   


Coronavirus and Equity

The PHIWM is a member of the Emergency Task Force on Coronavirus and Equity, which was convened by The Massachusetts Public Health Association to rapidly develop policy recommendations. The outbreak of COVID-19 is not impacting all Massachusetts residents equally.  Communities that are already facing marginalization are hardest hit by the virus and its economic repercussions.  Learn more about the Task Force's recommendations and action you can take to support them.

Other Equity Related Initiatives

PHIWM has also been working on several other equity-related initiatives that impact our local residents:

  • Safe quarantine space for people living unhoused

  • COVID 19 testing sites in western Massachusetts

  • Ability to purchase or access Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • Equity in resource distribution between eastern MA and western MA

  • Standards of care guideline for who receives ventilator care (statewide, related to persons with disabilities)

We'd like to thank our western MA legislative delegation for their support and leadership on the above initiatives to ensure that no one is forgotten during the COVID-19 pandemic.  We recognize that these times are incredibly busy, and we continue to be grateful that we have such equity-mined leaders representing us and fighting for people who don't always have the loudest voices, especially during times of panic.

2019 policy priorities can be found here.


  • 2019 Increased funding for Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention
  • 2019 Funding of Regional Transit Authorities
  • 2019 Updated School Wellness Policies for Springfield Public Schools and Square One
  • 2019 Age Friendly City designation for Springfield
  • 2018 Tobacco 21 legislation (Springfield and statewide)
  • 2017 Mass Food Trust funded at $1 million.
  • 2017 Springfield adopts Strong, Healthy Just: Climate Action & Resilience Plan.
  • 2012-2017 Springfield and Holyoke Public School Districts implement Green Cleaning practices to prevent asthma exacerbation.
  • 2015 Springfield City Council passes a Resolution to adopt the Complete Streets Plan for pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure.
  • 2014 Springfield City Council passes Resolution to create a Climate Action Plan.
  • 2014 Springfield City Council passes Zoning Ordinance on 21st Century development supporting healthy community design.
  • 2013 Springfield City Council passes Community Gardening Ordinance.
  • 2012 Holyoke Public School District institutes evidence-based curriculum for adolescent sexual health.
  • 2012 Springfield School Committee institutes policy for distribution of condoms by school nurses and evidence-based curriculum for adolescent sexual health.
  • 2012 Early education and care organizations create policy to discontinue use of fruit and vegetables canned in syrup.
  • 2010 Springfield City Council Resolution establishes Springfield Food Policy Council.
  • 2009 MA Department of Early Education and Care requires tooth brushing in childcare and preschool organizations to prevent childhood cavities.