Health promotion

Adelaide Recommendations on Healthy Public Policy

Second International Conference on Health Promotion, Adelaide, South Australia, 5-9 April 1988


Action Areas

The Conference identified four key areas as priorities for health public policy for immediate action:

Supporting the health of women

Women are the primary health promoters all over the world, and most of their work is performed without pay or for a minimal wage. Women's networks and organizations are models for the process of health promotion organization, planning and implementation. Women's networks should receive more recognition and support from policy-makers and established institutions. Otherwise, this investment of women's labour increases inequity. For their effective participation in health promotion women require access to information, networks and funds. All women, especially those from ethnic, indigenous, and minority groups, have the right to self-determination of their health, and should be full partners in the formulation of healthy public policy to ensure its cultural relevance.

This Conference proposes that countries start developing a national women's healthy public policy in which women's own health agendas are central and which includes proposals for:

  • equal sharing of caring work performed in society;
  • birthing practices based on women's preferences and needs;
  • supportive mechanisms for caring work, such as support for mothers with children,
  • parental leave, and dependent health-care leave.

Food and nutrition

The elimination of hunger and malnutrition is a fundamental objective of healthy public policy. Such policy should guarantee universal access to adequate amounts of healthy food in culturally acceptable ways. Food and nutrition policies need to integrate methods of food production and distribution, both private and public, to achieve equitable prices. A food and nutrition policy that integrates agricultural, economic, and environmental factors to ensure a positive national and international health impact should be a priority for all governments. The first stage of such a policy would be the establishment of goals for nutrition and diet. Taxation and subsidies should discriminate in favour of easy access for all to healthy food and an improved diet.

The Conference recommends that governments take immediate and direct action at all levels to use their purchasing power in the food market to ensure that the food-supply under their specific control (such as catering in hospitals, schools, day-care centres, welfare services and workplaces) gives consumers ready access to nutritious food.

Tobacco and alcohol

The use of tobacco and the abuse of alcohol are two major health hazards that deserve immediate action through the development of healthy public policies. Not only is tobacco directly injurious to the health of the smoker but the health consequences of passive smoking, especially to infants, are now more clearly recognized than in the past. Alcohol contributes to social discord, and physical and mental trauma. Additionally, the serious ecological consequences of the use of tobacco as a cash crop in impoverished economies have contributed to the current world crises in food production and distribution.

The production and marketing of tobacco and alcohol are highly profitable activities - especially to governments through taxation. Governments often consider that the economic consequences of reducing the production and consumption of tobacco and alcohol by altering policy would be too heavy a price to pay for the health gains involved.

This Conference calls on all governments to consider the price they are paying in lost human potential by abetting the loss of life and illness that tobacco smoking and alcohol abuse cause.

Governments should commit themselves to the development of healthy public policy by setting nationally-determined targets to reduce tobacco growing and alcohol production, marketing and consumption significantly by the year 2000.

Creating supportive environments

Many people live and work in conditions that are hazardous to their health and are exposed to potentially hazardous products. Such problems often transcend national frontiers.

Environmental management must protect human health from the direct and indirect adverse effects of biological, chemical, and physical factors, and should recognize that women and men are part of a complex ecosystem. The extremely diverse but limited natural resources that enrich life are essential to the human race. Policies promoting health can be achieved only in an environment that conserves resources through global, regional, and local ecological strategies.

A commitment by all levels of government is required. Coordinated intersectoral efforts are needed to ensure that health considerations are regarded as integral prerequisites for industrial and agricultural development. At an international level, the World Health Organization should play a major role in achieving acceptance of such principles and should support the concept of sustainable development.

This Conference advocates that, as a priority, the public health and ecological movements join together to develop strategies in pursuit of socioeconomic development and the conservation of our planet's limited resources.

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