Trevor Hancock is a professor and senior scholar at the University of Victoria’s school of public health and social policy
Most of my life’s work has been in the field of population health promotion – working to improve the health of the population. Thirty years ago the World Health Organisation launched the modern version of health promotion at a landmark conference in Ottawa. I was there as a participant and the author of one of the theme papers (on creating healthy environments).
The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion defined health promotion as “the process of enabling people to increase control over, and improve their health”. Three key points stand out here. First, this is a process; as such, there really is no end point, no point at which we say ‘OK, we’ve done that, let’s move on’. No matter how healthy the population is, it can always be healthier.
Moreover, since the mechanisms involved were defined in terms of developing public policies that are good for health, creating physical and social environments that are supportive of health, strengthening community action for health, developing personal skills for health, and re-orienting health care systems to focus more on health, the process is clearly socio-political ...continue reading