From Awareness to Action: What Is Health Promotion?
26 January 2024
The saying, “knowledge is power,” is true in health as well. Health promotion is based on the understanding that individual behavior can be the basis of a healthy lifestyle. It is an effective tool for global health that covers what overall health entails, including the mental health of kids.
So, what is health promotion and how is it carried out? We explore this and more in this article.
What Is Health Promotion?
According to WHO, health promotion “enables people to increase control over their own health. It covers a wide range of social and environmental interventions that are designed to benefit and protect individual people’s health and quality of life by addressing and preventing the root causes of ill health, not just focusing on treatment and cure.”
Hence, a healthy body starts with a well-informed mind. Health promotion covers a wide range of social, economic, environmental, and psychological issues, such as poverty, family planning, child protection services, and more to address health challenges and prevent the severity of morbidities and mortalities.
What Are the Pillars of Health Promotion?
Here are the three pillars of health promotion:
Up to 56% of the world’s population or 4.4 billion people lives in cities. Since they play a key role in promoting good health, local governments must ensure the safety of vulnerable populations. This can be done by providing equitable infrastructure, access to safe drinking water, sanitary living conditions, and minimizing the levels air pollutants.
People must be empowered with reliable, easy-to-understand health-related information so they can understand their choices, make informed decisions, and protect their health.
Good governance in the healthcare sector calls for improving accountability and effectiveness through evidence-based policymaking, transparent decision-making processes, clear implementation procedures, and openness to input from the public.
Considering that organizational success is heavily reliant on these factors, relevant stakeholders must assess the impact of their policies before implementation. This also helps them enforce legislation that can prevent future health crises.
What Are the Principles of Health Promotion?
Health promotion is based on these principles:
Health messages are broadcast via verbal, written, and online mediums to highlight present conditions. It also involves providing insights into how health issues can be managed so that people will seek help when necessary and make better decisions for themselves.
The primary goal of health promotion is to ensure equity and remove barriers that keep people from adopting healthy lifestyles. It includes everything from education to providing a pleasurable environment while giving them the freedom to make their own health-related decisions.
Health promotion requires coordinated efforts—from individuals and communities to governments and other decision-making bodies. It’s a practical way to resolve differences and find common ground while protecting and promoting health.
This could include raising awareness about nutrition and physical fitness, offering insights into stress management, providing support for smoking cessation, and conducting health screenings to raise awareness about common risks.
What Are the Main Strategies for Promoting Health?
Here are the most popular health promotion strategies:
Health promotion needs to systemically improve health outcomes. Based on research, educators can use external influences to advocate for environments that promote health.
For example, it has been found that poverty is a barrier to healthcare and leads to shorter life expectancies. Systematic change can focus on poverty reduction to create a more prosperous and stable society while increasing people’s options for healthy food and lowering population densities. It can also mean implementing a national strategy for suicide prevention that involves destigmatizing mental health issues and encouraging mental health dialogues.
Education ensures that individuals have access to all the information they need to embrace healthy behaviors. While one-on-one interactions in health facilities help, educational interventions in schools and colleges have a greater impact.
Over 75 million students were enrolled in schools in 2022. Interventions for such a large population could be as easy as offering a curriculum that addresses the various dimensions of health. This could motivate students to embrace physical activity, provide access to quality nutrition, offer counseling and other interventions, and encourage parent involvement.
For higher education systems, this could involve discussing sex education, providing insights into communicable and non-communicable diseases, and advocating for drug- and alcohol-free lifestyles in courses, seminars, and workshops.
A good health-promoting agency adopts a Kaizen approach in policy development. This ensures the availability of healthier offerings and more pleasurable environments. It seeks to continuously influence policy and practice to improve health.
Changes could include:
- Establishing tobacco-free zones
- Promoting child and family nutrition
- Reducing the number of cars on the road to reduce pollution
- Requiring the use of safety equipment in hazardous work environments
This might also entail lobbying for food labeling regulations. As the nutritional value of many foods has been declining for the past few decades, health promotion could ensure that people get the right information so they make better dietary decisions.
Health promotion doesn’t just rely on an individual’s ability to change their behavior; it also accounts for the health effects of the environments they live in. It includes making changes to the physical environment to promote health and prevent disease.
This could mean:
- Promoting actions that minimize carbon emissions
- Increasing the number of green spaces within a community
- Putting up signage to promote health-enhancing physical activity
- Minimizing pollution, known for doing long-term damage to the body
- Arranging summer activities for seniors to maintain their mental health
It also helps to introduce organizational procedures, such as clinics that stay open for longer to accommodate the working class and make healthcare more accessible.
For companies and businesses, this could mean better employee wellness which would lower healthcare costs and lead to reduced absenteeism, higher productivity, and increased morale among employees. Healthcare facilities must also provide relevant interventions, including rehabilitation programs.
IMANA is committed to health promotion. Whether through our medical relief operations, CME events, mental health initiatives, grants, or scholarships, we believe that a healthy world begins with access to the right knowledge.