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Health promotion as defined by the World Health Organization is the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve, their health.. In the USA, health promotion is much more narrowly conceived as "the science and art of helping people change their lifestyle to move toward a state of optimal health.health..
The basic principles of health promotion
According to the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion  the basic principles of health promotion are:
- Prerequisites for health
- The fundamental conditions and resources for health are peace, shelter, education, food, income, a stable ecosystem, sustainable resources, social justice and equity. Improvement in health requires a secure foundation in these basic prerequisites.
- Good health is a major resource for social, economic and personal development and an important dimension of quality of life. Political, economic, social, cultural, environmental, behavioural and biological factors can all favour health or be harmful to it. Health promotion action aims at making these conditions favourable through advocacy for health.
- Health promotion focuses on achieving equity in health. Health promotion action aims at reducing differences in current health status and ensuring equal opportunities and resources to enable all people to achieve their fullest health potential. This includes a secure foundation in a supportive environment, access to information, life skills and opportunities for making healthy choices. People cannot achieve their fullest health potential unless they are able to take control of those things which determine their health. This must apply equally to women and men.
- The prerequisites and prospects for health cannot be ensured by the health sector alone. More importantly, health promotion demands coordinated action by all concerned: by governments, by health and other social and economic sectors, by non-governmental and voluntary organizations, by local authorities, by industry and by the media. People in all walks of life are involved as individuals, families and communities. Professional and social groups and health personnel have a major responsibility to mediate between differing interests in society for the pursuit of health.
- Health promotion strategies and programmes should be adapted to the local needs and possibilities of individual countries and regions to take into account differing social, cultural and economic systems.
- Health Promotion Action Means:
- Build healthy public policy
- Health promotion goes beyond health care. It puts health on the agenda of policy-makers in all sectors and at all levels, directing them to be aware of the health consequences of their decisions and to accept their responsibilities for health.
- Health promotion policy combines diverse but complementary approaches including legislation, fiscal measures, taxation and organizational change. It is coordinated action that leads to health, income and social policies that foster greater equity. Joint action contributes to ensuring safer and healthier goods and services, healthier public services, and cleaner, more enjoyable environments.
- Health promotion policy requires the identification of obstacles to the adoption of healthy public policies in non-health sectors, and ways of removing them. The aim must be to make the healthier choice the easier choice for policy-makers as well.
- Create supportive environments
- Societies are complex and interrelated. Health cannot be separated from other goals. The inextricable links between people and their environment constitute the basis for a socioecological approach to health. The overall guiding principle for the world, nations, regions and communities alike is the need to encourage reciprocal maintenance - to take care of each other, our communities and our natural environment. The conservation of natural resources throughout the world should be emphasized as a global responsibility.
- Changing patterns of life, work and leisure have a significant impact on health. Work and leisure should be a source of health for people. The way society organizes work should help create a healthy society. Health promotion generates living and working conditions that are safe, stimulating, satisfying and enjoyable.
- Systematic assessment of the health impact of a rapidly changing environment - particularly in areas of technology, work, energy production and urbanization is essential and must be followed by action to ensure positive benefit to the health of the public. The protection of the natural and built environments and the conservation of natural resources must be addressed in any health promotion strategy.
- Strengthen community action
- Health promotion works through concrete and effective community action in setting priorities, making decisions, planning strategies and implementing them to achieve better health. At the heart of this process is the empowerment of communities, their ownership and control of their own endeavours and destinies.
- Community development draws on existing human and material resources in the community to enhance self-help and social support, and to develop flexible systems for strengthening public participation and direction of health matters. This requires full and continuous access to information, learning opportunities for health, as well as funding support.
- Develop personal skills
- Health promotion supports personal and social development through providing information, education for health and enhancing life skills. By so doing, it increases the options available to people to exercise more control over their own health and over their environments, and to make choices conducive to health.
- Enabling people to learn throughout life, to prepare themselves for all of its stages and to cope with chronic illness and injuries is essential. This has to be facilitated in school, home, work and community settings. Action is required through educational, professional, commercial and voluntary bodies, and within the institutions themselves.
- Reorient health services
- The responsibility for health promotion in health services is shared among individuals, community groups, health professionals, health service institutions and governments. They must work together towards a health care system which contributes to the pursuit of health.
- The role of the health sector must move increasingly in a health promotion direction, beyond its responsibility for providing clinical and curative services. Health services need to embrace an expanded mandate which is sensitive and respects cultural needs. This mandate should support the needs of individuals and communities for a healthier life, and open channels between the health sector and broader social, political, economic and physical environmental components.
- Reorienting health services also requires stronger attention to health research as well as changes in professional education and training. This must lead to a change of attitude and organization of health services, which refocuses on the total needs of the individual as a whole person.
Specific ares of activity
- AIDS Prevention
- Cancer screening
- Californian Journal of Health Promotion
- Client education
- Environmental, Safety and Health Communication
- Health attitudes
- Health behavior
- Health education
- Health knowledge
- Health mainenance organizations
- Health Promotion Board
- Health promotion in higher education
- Health screeing
- Lifestyle changes
- Mental health promotion
- Preventative medicine
- Promoting wellness
- Public health
- Royal Society for the Promotion of Health
- Social marketing
- Society for Health Education and Health Promotion Specialists
- O'Donnell, Michael, MBA, MPH. "Definition of Health Promotion: Part III: Expanding the Definition." American Journal of Health Promotion. Winter 1989, Vol. 3, No. 3. p. 5.
- Minkler, M. Ed. Community Organizing & Community Building for Health. Rutgers State University Press, 1997.
- Key Documents in Health Promotion
- Healthy Cities – WHO EURO Office
- International Union of Health Promotion and Education
- International Society for Equity in Health
- People’s Health Movement
- Politics of Health Group
- Text of the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion
- World Health Organization site on health promotion
- Californian Journal of Health Promotion (CJHP)
- Health Promotion and Wellness Resources
- Health Action by People India (HAP)
- Inner South Community Health Centre Health Promotion Plan
- Q.O.A.C.H (Question Oriented Approach for Common Health): multilanguage health promotion
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