Support to regions and countries in health promotion, strengthening national and community capacity
Since the Lalonde Report - A new Perspective on the Health of Canadians (1974) major strides have been made in developing health promotion internationally. It broadened the understanding of factors that contribute to good health, introduced the concept of health promotion and led to a number of governmental policies focused on lifestyle-seat belt legislation, exercise, nutrition and smoking cessation. The Ottawa Conference and Charter (1986) drew inspiration from the Lalonde report and from the Alma-Ata Declaration (1978). The WHA Resolution on Health Promotion, Public Information and Education for Health (WHA42.44) stated that the spirit of Alma-Ata was carried forward in the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion. The series of WHO international conferences - from Ottawa (Ottawa 1986), Adelaide (1988), Sundsvall (1991), Jakarta (1997) and Mexico (2000) have all contributed to its development and recognition of its potential worldwide.
The World Health Assembly Resolution on Health Promotion (WHA51/12) which followed the Jakarta Conference recognised the Ottawa Charter as providing a world-wide source of guidance for health promotion, endorsed the Jakarta Declaration, and called for strengthening the evidence base of health promotion. The Mexico Conference and Ministerial Statement called for the establishment of countrywide plans of action for health promotion. Delegates to the WHA and Regional Committees have repeatedly supported the importance of health promotion and call for stronger action at local, country and inter-country levels. All Regions have responded positively, a number have already developed or are developing regional health promotion strategies and plans.
There is now the need to strengthen the capability at local, country and inter-country levels for effective health promotion. Many countries still have very limited resources and capacity and do not always have a clear understanding of health promotion. The challenge now is to avail of this global support for health promotion to build the evidence base and capacity for its effective implementation at community, national and international levels. Already there is a rich source of materials and good examples to draw from, including the research in preparation for and the report of the inter-country expert meeting on education for health promotion (Madurai, Tamil Nadu, September 2001).