Press Release WHO/47
22 June 1998
Health Promotion in the 21st century: an era of partnerships to achieve health for all
"Partnerships are the key to successfully promoting health and thus improving people's lives," said Dr Ilona Kickbusch, Director of the World Health Organization's Division of Health Promotion, Education and Communication (HPR). "We need to reach out to organizations not traditionally involved in health, but which are nonetheless able to influence the health of their constituents, and co-opt them into the worldwide drive to achieve health for all in the 21st century. Only through the implication of all sectors of civil society can we hope to achieve this monumental goal."
Speaking on the eve of the XVI World Conference on Health Promotion and Health Education (IUHPE), being held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, from 21-26 June 1998, Dr Kickbusch emphasized the special role which the IUHPE and its members could play in ensuring that people in all sections of society and all parts of the globe had the ability to take control of and improve their own health.
"With nearly 2000 members, representing both themselves and a wide range of governmental and nongovernmental organizations in over 90 countries, we can ensure that organizations the world over get the message that nearly every school, business, workplace and city, has the ability to influence and improve its constituents' health. Together, we can create and disseminate the knowledge, tools and awareness needed to harness the health-enhancing aspects of every organization. This Conference, with its focus on empowerment, equity, environment and economics in relation to health, will be a big step forward in that process."
The just-adopted World Health Assembly Resolution on Health Promotion (WHA51.12) called on WHO and its Member States to break through traditional boundaries between government sectors, between government and nongovernmental organizations, and between the public and private sectors in order to consolidate and expand "partnerships for health" and form global, regional and local health promotion networks. The Resolution further urged all Member States to increase community capacity and empower the individual in matters of health, to adopt an evidence-based approach to health promotion, and to ensure that health promotion continues throughout the lifespan.
"Schools, for example, are an excellent entry point for improving the health and other elements of the social environment not only of students, but of teachers, other officials and, by extension, all of these people's families," said Dr Kickbusch.
WHO has been at the forefront of creating healthy schools networks (see WHO Fact Sheet No 92 for more details) but WHO and its partners in health promotion will have to continue to work hard to ensure the maintenance of health through schools at current levels, let alone the creation of health promoting schools: development of healthy individuals can only happen when people actively participate in the improvement of their own health.
A WHO meeting held in late May 1998 in Esbjerg, Denmark, showed that, in the United States, the enrolment in daily physical education classes in high schools had decreased from 42% in 1991 to 25% in 1995. Meanwhile, a survey of 25 European countries revealed that no country offered a daily period of physical education and only three countries offered at least two hours per week of physical education at both primary and secondary levels.
"Almost all organizations have not only a vested interest, but also a social responsibility, in maintaining and improving their members' health. All we have to do is find and use to everyone's advantage that aspect of the organization's structure through which the leverage on health is greatest. Together, we can improve the world's health," said Dr Kickbusch.
Other settings which WHO believes have a strong interest in maintaining and enhancing their constituents' health include workplaces, health institutions, local communities, markets and even entire islands and communities. Other WHO network initiatives include Active Living, Healthy Ageing, Travel and Tourism and the Mega Countries Network (which brings together the world's most populous countries).
Promotion website can also be consulted at http://www.who.ch/hpr
For further information, journalists can contact Gregory Hartl, WHO, Geneva. Telephone (41 22) 791 44 58. Fax (41 22) 791 48 58. E-Mail: email@example.com
All WHO Press Releases, Fact Sheets and Features as well as other information on this subject can be obtained on Internet on the WHO home page http://www.who.int