Past highlights set platform for bright future

Hauora sits with Executive Director Sione Tu’itahi to reflect on some of the highlights for the year including the outcomes of the 23rd International Union for Health Promotion and Education World Conference on Health Promotion co-hosted by HPF. Mr Tu’itahi also looks ahead to 2020 and some of the major initiatives HPF is working on including the accreditation framework, training the workforce, healthy city scheme and collaborative leadership

Hauora: 2019 has been a big year for the HPF. Co-hosting the World Conference on Health Promotion must be one of the highlights. But what stands out for you?

ST: Successfully hosting the world conference was certainly a major highlight. As the biggest public health conference to date in the country, it was a million-dollar budget event, and we were able to deliver with lots of learning for future. It was also part of a strategic process. So, following up on post-conference activities, advancing the development of the accreditation framework for health promotion, training the health promotion workforce, and co-leading collaboratively with other public health and health promotion organisations are equally important achievements. And we did all of these with prudent management of our small resources, while ensuring that HPF remains strong and sustainable.

Sione chats with Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick

Hauora: Can you elaborate on the conference outcomes and post activities, and what is there for health promotion in New Zealand?

ST: Clearly the knowledge shared by over 1000 delegates at the conference was a great outcome. This is especially true in the major areas of planetary health, indigenous health promotion, social, economic, political, and ecological determinants of health, as reflected in the conference evaluation. Health promotion networks at national, regional and international levels were certainly enhanced. At the global level, for example, working groups on planetary health, and indigenous health promotion are being formed to work closely with, and under our conference partner, the International Union for Health Promotion and Education (IUHPE). This means that the knowledge shared, and the momentum created at the conference will continue for the benefit of health promotion, and society, across the world, including New Zealand and the Pacific region.

It was made very clear at the conference that the health of the planet is the most significant issue for the world today. It is affecting almost every aspect of human life. It was also clear that indigenous knowledge, and indigenous health promotion can contribute solutions.  New Zealand is a leader in indigenous health promotion, and we are already contributing at the global level.  The two legacy statements on these important themes that were approved at the conference reflect that, and the statements are now informing training, policy, practice and strategic planning on a number of levels.

A third major outcome that we are advancing is the ‘healthy city initiative’. The idea is to have at least one city in the country to become a healthy city under the WHO scheme within the next three years. This city can be a pilot and an example for the rest. While the healthy city initiative has been around for a few decades now, it is timely to reinvigorate it, as WHO did at the Shanghai Global Congress in 2016. In light of the environmental crisis, more people, communities and families live in cities than rural areas, it makes common sense to collaborate with city authorities, and all other sectors and communities for their collective wellbeing.  With the right combination of settings-based and systems approaches, the health city initiative can complement other community development and empowerment approaches that are informed by either geography or ethnicity, or both.

Hauora: You mentioned the accreditation framework for health promotion as one of the highlights for the year. What is the update?

ST: Let me give you a brief background, first. Health promotion is still an unregulated profession. This poses a challenge to trainers and health promotion practitioners and it also makes the profession vulnerable. The accreditation framework we are establishing will provide a formal recognition, and therefore will be helpful to all. Importantly also, our framework is formally aligned with the global framework already established by IUHPE.  One system across the world.  In future, this can give recognition across national borders and make it easier for practitioners when they move to work across countries.  After being advised earlier in the year by IUHPE that we are on the right track, we put out the latest draft of the ‘standards’ for consultation. We have received very positive feedback and constructive advice. Our aim is that by mid-2020, IUHPE would have approved our standards, then we can focus on establishing a national accreditation organisation to coordinate the training and assessment of health promoters. So, watch this space.

Hauora: And on your training of the workforce?

ST: An important development this year is adding new online courses on health promotion. We want to make sure that anyone around the country can access health promotion learning, at their own time and pace.  Meanwhile we continue to offer the introductory course on health promotion, a joint venture with MIT.  While the course is open to all, we can also make arrangements to deliver it within organisations to meet the needs of their workers.

Hauora: You were awarded the 2019 Public Health Champion by the PHA. What does that mean to you?

Sione was supported by the HPF team at the awards ceremony in Auckland.

ST: The award reflects the teamwork and collaborative leadership approach that we have here at HPF.  It is a clear outcome of our collective effort as shown by our success with the world conference. It also reflects how HPF has been working closely with its partners at national, regional and global level, to achieve common goals for the wellbeing and betterment of society.  Furthermore, it demonstrates the effectiveness of having a constitution that is grounded on Te Tiriti with values and goals that are for the wellbeing of all. It informs our leadership and the way we work, from within, to makes sure we are a culturally, socially and professionally competent and healthy organisation. If we are not healthy from within first, HPF won’t make a difference out there within the sector and its workforce. Walking our talk, starts within us first. That will make our work with others authentic and productive with lasting outcomes that can make a difference.

Hauora: Looking forward, what does 2020 hold for HPF?

ST: The future will continue to be challenging but it is brighter than before, provided that we continue to work on the right priorities and in the right way. What we achieved this year are the fruits of our strategic commitment over the last five to 10 years. I mentioned major initiatives that we are working on such as the accreditation framework, training the workforce, the healthy city scheme, collaborative leadership. Some will come to fruition in the near future, others are ongoing. With adequate resources, we will continue to respond effectively in co-leading and building the health promotion sector and its workforce to contribute to the health and wellbeing of our country, and the rest of the world.