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Health Promotion: an effective approach to sustainable development

January 2016:  Senior Health Promotion Strategist Karen Hicks contributed this post to the WHO’s This Week in Global Health  

Health Promotion: An Effective Approach to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

~Written by: Karen Hicks, Senior Health Promotion Strategist & Lecturer, New Zealand (Contact: karen_ahicks@hotmail.com)

In September 2015 the United Nations adopted seventeen sustainable development goals (SDGs) (Figure 1) as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; which aims to end poverty, fight inequality, injustice, and tackle climate change. These SDGs are acknowledged as going beyond the previous Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as they aim to address, ‘The root cause of poverty and a universal need for development that will work for all people’ (United Nations, 2015).     Figure 1. Sustainable Development Goals. Source: http://wfto.com/sites/default/files/field/image/2015-07-21-SDGs.png Each of the SDGs relate to health and wellbeing with aims, approaches and principles that are concomitant to the discipline of health promotion; a discipline that acknowledges the complexity of health and is based on the principles of human rights, equity and empowerment (Williams, 2011). Consequently, such principles imply that health promotion is an effective approach toward achieving the SDGs. This approach is supported by the global framework and described in “The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion” (WHO, 1986) (Figure 2) which identifies five key action areas: building healthy public policy, creating supportive environments, strengthening community actions, developing personal skills and reorientating health services through advocacy, enabling mediation for effective practice.  

Figure 2. The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion Logo. Source:http://www.who.int/healthpromotion/conferences/previous/en/hpr_logo.jpg   An example of a collaborative initiative that illustrates health promotion as defined in the Ottawa Charter is the International Network of Health Promoting Hospitals & Health Services (HPH). The initiative collaborates to reorient health care towards an active promotion of health, aiming to improve for patients, staff, and communities. Further detail on the approach can be accessed on the HPH website (http://www.hphnet.org). The principles and actions illustrated alongside the interdisciplinary approach of health promotion that empowers people and communities (Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand, 2014) and focuses on equity and the broader determinants of health (Davies 2013) is acknowledged by the World Health Organisation, “Health promotion programmes based on principles of engagement and empowerment offer real benefits. These include: creating better conditions for health, improving health literacy, supporting independent living and making the healthier choice the easier choice” (WHO 2013 p 16).  The value associated to the approach clarifies how health promotion can effectively contribute to achieving the seventeen SDGs where the SDGs can guide the delivery of effective health promotion to improve health, wellbeing and personal development throughout the global community.   References: Clinical Health Promotion Centre. The International Network of Health Promoting Hospitals & Services.  http://www.hphnet.org/ Accessed 22/1/2016. Bispebjerg University Hospital Denmark. Davies, J.K. 2013. Health Promotion: a Unique Discipline? Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand. Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand. 2014.http://www.hauora.co.nz/defining-health-promotion.html#sthash.5sStc8VF.dpuf. United Nations. 2015. http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment. Williams, C. 2011. Health promotion, human rights and equity. Keeping up to date. Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand. World Health Organisation. 1986. The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion. WHO. WHO (2013) Health 2020: a European policy framework and strategy for the 21st century Copenhagen, World Health Organisation   Read the blog at TWIGH       23 March 2016   Karen Hicks