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What is health promotion?



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What is health promotion?

A major international meeting of health promotion in Ottawa, Canada defined health promotion as ‘the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve, their health. It moves beyond a focus on individual behaviour towards a wide range of social and environmental interventions’ (this is included in the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion).

Enjoyment of the highest possible standard of health is recognised as one of the rights of every human being. Health promotion is based on this human right; it offers a positive and inclusive concept of health, including mental and spiritual wellbeing, as a determinant of a person’s quality of life.

Health promotion actions include strengthening the skills and capabilities of individuals, and actions directed towards changing social, environmental, political and economic conditions to positively change their impact on population and individual health.



The Ottawa Charter identifies three approaches to creating improvements in health:

  • advocating for health (by addressing political, economic, social, cultural, environmental, behavioural and biological factors) to create the essential conditions for health

  • developing and maintaining supportive environments, access to information, life skills and opportunities for healthy choices to enable people to take control over their own health in order to achieve their fullest potential

  • facilitating coordinated action between governments, health and other social and economic sectors, non-government and voluntary organisations, local authorities, industry and the media to pursue optimal health for individuals and communities.

Strategies and planning in health promotion refer to these action areas:

  • building healthy public policy

  • creating supportive environments

  • strengthening community action

  • developing personal knowledge and skills

  • reorienting health services

  • moving into the future.

The National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health identifies the following key principles for improving health and wellbeing in Indigenous communities:
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