“Health promotion is the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve their health.” Health Promotion Glossary, 1998
A brief history of Health Promotion
The first International Conference on Health Promotion was held in Ottawa in 1986, and was primarily a response to growing expectations for a new public health movement around the world. It launched a series of actions among international organizations, national governments and local communities to achieve the goal of "Health For All" by the year 2000 and beyond. The basic strategies for health promotion identified in the Ottawa Charter were: advocate (to boost the factors which encourage health), enable (allowing all people to achieve health equity) and mediate (through collaboration across all sectors).
Since then, the WHO Global Health Promotion Conferences have established and developed the global principles and action areas for health promotion. Most recently, the 9th global conference (Shanghai 2016), titled ‘Promoting health in the Sustainable Development Goals: Health for all and all for health’, highlighted the critical links between promoting health and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Whilst calling for bold political interventions to accelerate country action on the SDGs, the Shanghai Declaration provides a framework through which governments can utilize the transformational potential of health promotion.
Promoting Healthier Populations
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provides a bold and ambitious agenda for the future. WHO is committed to helping the world meet the SDGs by championing health across all the goals. WHO’s core mission is to promote health, alongside keeping the world safe and serving the vulnerable. Beyond fighting disease, we will work to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages, leaving no-one behind.
Our target is 1 billion more people enjoying better health and well-being by 2023.
- Good Governance
Strengthen governance and policies to make healthy choices accessible and affordable to all, and create sustainable systems that make whole-of-society collaboration real. This approach is based on the rationale that health is determined by multiple factors outside the direct control of the health sector (e.g. education, income, and individual living conditions) and that decisions made in other sectors can affect the health of individuals and shape patterns of disease distribution and mortality.
- Health Literacy
Improving health literacy in populations provides the foundation on which citizens are enabled to play an active role in improving their own health, engage successfully with community action for health, and push governments to meet their responsibilities in addressing health and health equity.
- Healthy Settings
The settings approach has roots in the WHO Health for All strategy and, more specifically, the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion. Healthy Settings key principles include community participation, partnership, empowerment and equity. The Healthy Cities programme is the best-known example of a successful Healthy Settings programme.
- Social mobilization
Bringing together all societal and personal influences to raise awareness of and demand for health care, assist in the delivery of resources and services, and cultivate sustainable individual and community involvement.