Essay by maree11 July 2004

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In 1977, The World Health Organisation recognised that governments all over the world should be trying to achieve a certain level of health for all its individuals by the year 2000. This strategy became known as the 'global health for all' strategy.

To help achieve this goal, the first conference on health promotion was held in Ottawa, Canada in 1986. From this conference, The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion was produced.

The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion is a document that represents a worldwide approach to health promotion by the World Health Organisation. It enables people to increase control over and improve their health while taking into account different cultural, social and economic situations. It also outlines necessities needed for health and essential action for health promotion.

The fundamental conditions and resources for health are;

- Peace, shelter, education, food, income, a stable ecosystem, sustainable resources, social justice and equity.

Some other prerequisites for health identified by the Ottawa Charter include;

- Viewing health as a positive concept, emphasising social and personal resources as well as physical capabilities.

- Identifying that, all people should be able to achieve their health potential through the provision of equal opportunities and resources.

- Recognising that all the sectors within a community are responsible for health promotion. For example, governments, media and local authorities.

In order to achieve these ideals, the Ottawa charter recognised that there are five essential actions to improve health and create greater equality in health:

1. Developing Personal Skills - requires the maintenance of good health behaviours. Nutrition, physical activity and drug modification are all examples.

2. Creating Supportive Environments - taking care of each other, our communities and our environment. For example, identifying health risks in the work environment and altering the work conditions accordingly.

3. Reorientating Health Services - expanding the focus of health services from cure to promotion of good health and refocusing on the total needs of the individual as a whole person. For example, medical centres for Aboriginal people.

4. Strengthening Community Action - identifying how communities can improve the health of their members. An example of this is, suicide prevention, which is supported by government funding in response to community concerns.

5. Building Healthy Public Policy - taking account of the importance of health for individuals and communities. For example, occupational health and safety regulations, vaccinations and smoke free public environments.

To improve peoples health is not just a matter of producing better medical techniques, miracle cures or governments passing laws, rather the Ottawa charter identifies these five action areas for health promotion.

The Ottawa Charter also accepts that, health status is not only the responsibility of the individual it recognises that the ability of people to alter their behaviour is greatly influenced by social, economic, cultural and environmental factors.