Health Promotion is a phrase most people may be familiar with or have at least heard of. But what does health promotion actually mean?
If you want the most well-known definition, the World Health Organisation says:
“Health promotion is the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve their health.”1
Take, for example, that old adage “Prevention is better than a cure”. If you picture a “Health Pyramid”, the bottom rung would be Prevention. Next up may be Treatment then right on top perhaps Rehabilitation. Obviously, prevention is much better than needing treatment or the “cure” in the first place. Now, Health Promotion may be thought of as being placed right on the bottom of our pyramid, under Prevention. Why? Because Health Promotion gives people the opportunity, the skills and the knowledge to Prevent.
Our health and wellbeing are determined by many factors including age, culture, where and how we live and work, and what we consume-both in terms of the food we eat and communication, such as instant messaging and social media. If we go back to the World Health Organisation, they’ve identified three key elements of health promotion - good governance for health, healthy cities and health literacy2:
- Good Governance - All forms of government to develop legislation and policies that prioritise health. They need to be able to support the development of healthy urban and natural environments that encourage active, healthy lifestyles and healthy cities.
- Healthy Cities - Cities, towns, suburbs- the places we live and spend our time, have an important role in our health and wellbeing. Healthy cities require good governance, but at the local level. Again, it requires policies and plans that create an environment that promotes health and wellbeing across the various settings where we live, work and play.
- Health literacy - This is what gives people the knowledge, skills and the power to make healthier choices. It’s about how people use and understand the information that is made available. Education is a key part in this. Education through campaigns, events, promotions and any format that allows information to be easily accessible.
At Healthy Environs, health promotion is one of our key service pillars (along with Community and Environment). Of course, it’s hard to focus on one without addressing the interconnection of the other two pillars, and so we try to incorporate all three in our work.
We work closely with government, non-government organisations, the private sector and the community sector to deliver projects that have a health promotion focus.
1World Health Organization, The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion, https://www.who.int/teams/health-promotion/enhanced-wellbeing/first-global-conference
2World Health Organisation, Health Promotion, https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/what-is-health-promotion