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What is Health Promotion?

Health promotion refers to planned actions which aim to empower people to control their own health by gaining control over its determinants. These determinants include underlying factors that influence health such as food security, peace, shelter, social connectedness, a sustainable ecosystem, income and access to education and employment opportunities. Increasingly, health promotion is becoming a vital part of the global social progress agenda (Mittlemark, 2000).

Health promotion is understood best when people are able to define it for themselves within the context of their work, their experiences and their daily lives. It defies a simple definition, yet its significance as a core function of healthy communities is indisputable. Health promotion moves beyond prevention and management of chronic disease, to focus on solutions through community development, health education, citizen participation and advocacy for health (Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion, 1986).

Values are central to all activities and relationships associated with health promotion. Equity, social justice and inclusion are examples that contribute to community participation and enhance the degree of control that people have over their own lives and destinies. These values are fundamental to individual and community empowerment, which in turn is fundamental to health.

Health promotion

  • gives people power to identify their issues and come up with solutions.
  • provides long term solutions to society's health concerns.
  • permits people to challenge and reduce inequalities in their lives.
  • addresses the determinants of health through cooperation and community participation.
  • provides resources that people can control, not services that are controlled by those supplying them (Morton, 2003).

See also Community-inspired health promotion.

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