Health promotion

Health promotion: 

Health promotion is the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve their health.

Reference: Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion. WHO, Geneva,1986

Health promotion represents a comprehensive social and political process, it not only embraces actions directed at strengthening the skills and capabilities of individuals, but also action directed towards changing social, environmental and economic conditions so as to alleviate their impact on public and individual health. Health promotion is the process of enabling people to increase control over the determinants of health and thereby improve their health. Participation is essential to sustain health promotion action.

The Ottawa Charter identifies three basic strategies for health promotion. These are advocacy for health to create the essential conditions for health indicated above; enabling all people to achieve their full health potential; and mediating between the different interests in society in the pursuit of health.

These strategies are supported by five priority action areas as outlined in the Ottawa Charter for health promotion:

Build healthy public policy

Create supportive environments for health

Strengthen community action for health

Develop personal skills, and

Re-orient health services

Each of these strategies and action areas is further defined in the glossary.

The Jakarta Declaration on Leading Health Promotion into the 21st Century from July 1997 confirmed that these strategies and action areas are relevant for all countries. Furthermore, there is clear evidence that:

Comprehensive approaches to health development are the most effective. Those that use combinations of the five strategies are more effective than single-track approaches;

Settings for health offer practical opportunities for the implementation of comprehensive strategies;

Participation is essential to sustain efforts. People have to be at the centre of health promotion action and decision-making processes for them to be effective;

Health literacy / health learning fosters participation. Access to education and information is essential to achieving effective participation and the empowerment of people and communities.

For health promotion in the 21st century the Jakarta Declaration identifies five priorities:

Promote social responsibility for health

Increase investments for health development

Expand partnerships for health promotion

Increase community capacity and empower the individual

Secure an infrastructure for health promotion

Each of these priorities is further defined in the glossary. Increasing community capacity is addressed in the definition of community action for health. Empowerment for health is included as a definition.

Source: Health Promotion Glossary (1998), WHO/HPR/HEP/98.1