Capacity building is the development of knowledge, skills, commitment, structures, systems and leadership to enable effective health promotion. It involves actions to improve health at three levels: the advancement of knowledge and skills among practitioners; the expansion of support and infrastructure for health promotion in organizations, and; the development of cohesiveness and partnerships for health in communities.
Reference: Modified definition (Skinner, 1997; Hawe et al., 2000; Catford, 2005)
The competency of individual health promoters is a necessary but not sufficient condition for achieving effective health promotion. The support from the organizations they work within and work with is equally crucial to the effective implementation of health promotion strategies. At the organizational level this may include training of staff, providing resources, designing policies and procedures to institutionalize health promotion and developing structures for health promotion planning and evaluation. The scope of organizational capacity building encompasses the range of policies and partnerships for health promotion that may be necessary to implement specific programs or to identify and respond to new health needs as they arise. At the community level, capacity building may include raising awareness about health risks, strategies to foster community identity and cohesion, education to increase health literacy, facilitating access to external resources, and developing structures for community decision-making. Community capacity building concerns the ability of community members to take action to address their needs as well as the social and political support that is required.
Source: WHO Health Promotion Glossary: new terms. Smith BJ, Tang KC, Nutbeam D. Health Promot Int. 2006 Dec;21(4):340-5.