Health promotion

The Bangkok Charter for Health Promotion in a Globalized World (11 August 2005)

Scope

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The full text of the Bangkok Charter is available in pdf format in the following languages:

Note: This charter contains the collective views of an international group of experts, participants of the 6th Global Conference on Health Promotion, Bangkok, Thailand, August 2005, and does not necessarily represent the decisions or the stated policy of the World Health Organization.

The Bangkok Charter identifies actions, commitments and pledges required to address the determinants of health in a globalized world through health promotion.

Effective interventions

Progress towards a healthier world requires strong political action, broad participation and sustained advocacy.

Health promotion has an established repertoire of proven effective strategies which need to be fully utilized.

Required actions

To make further advances in implementing these strategies, all sectors and settings must act to:

  • advocate for health based on human rights and solidarity
  • invest in sustainable policies, actions and infrastructure to address the determinants of health
  • build capacity for policy development, leadership, health promotion practice, knowledge transfer and research, and health literacy
  • regulate and legislate to ensure a high level of protection from harm and enable equal opportunity for health and well-being for all people
  • partner and build alliances with public, private, nongovernmental and international organizations and civil society to create sustainable actions.

Key commitments

The four key commitments are to make the promotion of health:

  • central to the global development agenda
  • a core responsibility for all of government
  • a key focus of communities and civil society
  • a requirement for good corporate practice.
1. Make the promotion of health central to the global development agenda

Strong intergovernmental agreements that increase health and collective health security are needed. Government and international bodies must act to close the health gap between rich and poor. Effective mechanisms for global governance for health are required to address all the harmful effects of:

  • trade
  • products
  • services, and
  • marketing strategies.

Health promotion must become an integral part of domestic and foreign policy and international relations, including in situations of war and conflict.

This requires actions to promote dialogue and cooperation among nation states, civil society, and the private sector. These efforts can build on the example of existing treaties such as the World Health Organization Framework Convention for Tobacco Control.

2. Make the promotion of health a core responsibility for all of government

All governments at all levels must tackle poor health and inequalities as a matter of urgency because health is a major determinant of socioeconomic and political development. Local, regional and national governments must:

  • give priority to investments in health, within and outside the health sector
  • provide sustainable financing for health promotion.

To ensure this, all levels of government should make the health consequences of policies and legislation explicit, using tools such as equity-focused health impact assessment.

3. Make the promotion of health a key focus of communities and civil society

Communities and civil society often lead in initiating, shaping and undertaking health promotion. They need to have the rights, resources and opportunities to enable their contributions to be amplified and sustained. In less developed communities, support for capacity building is particularly important.

Well organized and empowered communities are highly effective in determining their own health, and are capable of making governments and the private sector accountable for the health consequences of their policies and practices.

Civil society needs to exercise its power in the marketplace by giving preference to the goods, services and shares of companies that exemplify corporate social responsibility.

Grass-roots community projects, civil society groups and women’s organizations have demonstrated their effectiveness in health promotion, and provide models of practice for others to follow.

Health professional associations have a special contribution to make.

4. Make the promotion of health a requirement for good corporate practice

The corporate sector has a direct impact on the health of people and on the determinants of health through its influence on:

  • local settings
  • national cultures
  • environments, and
  • wealth distribution.

The private sector, like other employers and the informal sector, has a responsibility to ensure health and safety in the workplace, and to promote the health and well-being of their employees, their families and communities.

The private sector can also contribute to lessening wider global health impacts, such as those associated with global environmental change by complying with local national and international regulations and agreements that promote and protect health. Ethical and responsible business practices and fair trade exemplify the type of business practice that should be supported by consumers and civil society, and by government incentives and regulations.

Closing the implementation gap

Since the adoption of the Ottawa Charter, a significant number of resolutions at national and global level have been signed in support of health promotion, but these have not always been followed by action. The participants of this Bangkok Conference forcefully call on Member States of the World Health Organization to close this implementation gap and move to policies and partnerships for action.

Call for action

Conference participants request the World Health Organization and its Member States, in collaboration with others, to allocate resources for health promotion, initiate plans of action and monitor performance through appropriate indicators and targets, and to report on progress at regular intervals. United Nations organizations are asked to explore the benefits of developing a Global Treaty for Health.

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