MAPP Basics - Introduction to the MAPP Process
"Coming together is the beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success." – Henry Ford
What is MAPP?
Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships (MAPP) is a strategic approach to community health improvement. This tool helps communities improve health and quality of life through community-wide strategic planning. Using MAPP, communities seek to achieve optimal health by identifying and using their resources wisely, taking into account their unique circumstances and needs, and forming effective partnerships for strategic action.
The MAPP tool was developed by NACCHO in cooperation with the Public Health Practice Program Office, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A work group composed of local health officials, CDC representatives, community representatives, and academicians developed MAPP between 1997 and 2000. The vision for implementing MAPP is:
"Communities achieving improved health and quality of life by mobilizing partnerships and taking strategic action."
The following seven principles are integral to the successful implementation of MAPP:
Benefits of Undertaking MAPP
Below are just some of the benefits to be derived from the MAPP process.
The Elements of MAPP
The MAPP tool was designed to include the following key elements.
2) MAPP builds on previous experiences and lessons learned — Information from previous planning efforts and established assessment tools was used in the development of MAPP. Most notably, MAPP builds on the Assessment Protocol for Excellence in Public Health (APEXPH). Released in 1991, APEXPH has guided hundreds of local health departments through internal organizational capacity assessments and collaborative community health assessment processes. While building on the familiar concepts of APEXPH, MAPP is more progressive in a variety of ways:
3) MAPP uses traditional strategic planning concepts within its model — Strategic planning assists communities in more effectively securing resources, matching needs with assets, responding to external circumstances, anticipating and managing change, and establishing a long-range direction for the community. The MAPP model includes basic strategic planning concepts, such as visioning, an environmental scan, the identification of strategic issues, and the formulation of strategies.
4) MAPP focuses on the creation and strengthening of the local public health system — Local public health systems are defined by MAPP as the "human, informational, financial, and organizational resources, including public, private, and voluntary organizations and individuals, that contribute to the public's health." This focus is important because "the public's health depends on the interaction of many factors; thus, the health of a community is a shared responsibility of many entities, organizations, and interests in the community" (Institute of Medicine, Improving Health in the Community). The MAPP process brings these diverse interests together to collaboratively determine the most effective way to conduct public health activities.
5) MAPP creates governmental public health leadership — While MAPP focuses on the local public health system, it is anticipated that governmental public health entities will take leadership roles in initiating MAPP in their communities. Thus, MAPP will help to create a greater recognition of the important roles governmental entities—such as local health departments, boards of health, and environmental agencies—play in their communities.
6) MAPP uses the Essential Public Health Services to define public health activities — The Essential Public Health Services and other public health practice concepts have been incorporated into MAPP, providing much-needed links with other public health initiatives. The Essential Public Health Services are a list of 10 public health activities that should be undertaken in all jurisdictions. (See Backgrounder – The Essential Public Health Services.) The use of the Essential Services framework and the focus on the local public health system provides a crucial link with the National Public Health Performance Standards Program (NPHPSP), being developed by CDC, NACCHO, and other national public health organizations. The local-level instrument of the NPHPSP is an integral part of MAPP's Local Public Health System Assessment.
7) MAPP brings four assessments together to drive the development of a community strategic plan — Four unique and comprehensive assessments gather information to drive the identification of strategic issues.
How Does MAPP Work?
MAPP includes two graphics that illustrate the process communities will undertake. Both graphics display the MAPP process, but in different ways.
The MAPP guidance was developed to be practical and user-friendly. Two products provide information about the MAPP process:
The MAPP guidance is intended to serve as a best practice model. MAPP should be implemented in the manner that best fits the needs of the community. Vignettes and tip sheets provide suggestions and ideas for tailoring the process. As MAPP is implemented across the nation, NACCHO intends to develop further recommendations and tips for customizing the process.
While it is presented as a phase-by-phase approach to community-wide strategic planning, MAPP represents a continuous process in which phases often reflect back on one another. Community-driven strategic planning is not a sequential activity and is most successful when it is interwoven with the activities of local public health system partners in a sustained manner.
Finally, it is worth restating that MAPP must be a community-driven process. There should be a high level of participation from community organizations and residents. The dialogue principles, discussed in the Tip Sheet – Engaging the Community, should guide community and stakeholder involvement. Boards of health and other governing bodies are especially crucial to a community-wide strategic planning effort, since they are necessary in implementing policy changes or making resource allocation decisions.
MAPP is intended to lead communities to an unprecedented union among the community organizations, agencies, groups, and individuals that comprise the local public health system. Through broad ownership, communities can create an effort that is sustainable, builds on collective wisdom, uses resources from throughout the community, and, ultimately, leads to community health improvement.