What is Health Promotion?
Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a condition that “consists of the condition of life in its normal course without limitations.” Various definitions have also been used over the years for various purposes. Universal health care, which considers health a basic human right, defines it as “the quality of life capable of survival.” In addition, the WHO notes that “healthy life” can be determined from four aspects: physical health, mental health, social health, and ecological health.
Community health promotion aims at preventing and reducing health disparities and their causes. It aims to reduce the gaps between poor and wealthy health. For this purpose, community health promotion plans are implemented through a multi-stakeholder effort involving local residents, organizations serving poor communities, schools, employers, governmental agencies, and WHO. WHO is convening the global mult stakeholder dialogue on health management and financing. The dialogue is expanding to include the priorities of women health and nutrition, rural communities, people at risk, and globalization.
WHO works towards improving the quality of life and achieving the necessary goals for universal health coverage, through policies and programs. Public health is made possible through policies that provide financial resources and technical capacity to local communities to fight against health disparities and help communities improve their health. Policy makers try to reduce health disparities by improving access to quality and preventing diseases that have higher mortality rates. Efforts focus on preventing life threatening diseases, promoting healthy behaviors and diet, maintaining current preventive care, and improving the quality of life through promoting physical education. WHO also coordinates with the government on providing services and implementing policies to eliminate public health disparities. This allows communities to use effective public health measures to reduce health disparities.
Community health promotion also involves programs that address health inequities such as poverty, lack of resources, social determinants of health, substance abuse, unmet needs, life style choices, and other factors that adversely affect health. These interventions aim to improve overall health, promote good health, decrease health disparities, and increase the quality of life for all. A major strategy is for communities to build a “wellness and health partnership” that improves the health of all through coordinated efforts.
The strategies aim at reducing health disparities by addressing key public health risks, such as smoking and tobacco use, promoting healthy eating, preventing obesity, encouraging physical education, promoting good nutritional practices, and discouraging health disparities among racial and ethnic groups. The strategies also address changing patterns of family structure and adjustment. For example, the United States has one of the highest rates of infant mortality among all developed countries. Infant mortality is especially high in black American infants. Efforts to prevent infant mortality include promoting healthy eating, promoting physical education, encouraging healthy sexual practices, encouraging safe child care and maintaining good family planning and treatment.
Health promotion and health education are used to counter different types of diseases and their risk factors. Prevention is the primary focus of most health promotion activities, since early life health is crucial for healthy development. In spite of all the efforts, there is still considerable variation in the health promotion and health education practice across the different regions of the world. There is a need for globalization of health communication so that the different threats, benefits, and risk factors of diseases and disorders are better understood by health experts and policy makers.