The Ottawa Charter: Discussion On The Significance Of This Health Promotion Document

People are less likely to be aware of the negative effects their lifestyle choices have on their health. The ability to change unhealthy lifestyle habits can help people live longer, more fulfilling lives and improve their health overall. A successful health promotion program is vital in helping people gain control over their health. A multi-faceted and multi-sectoral approach to health promotion is essential in order to achieve the best results. This includes strategies and ideas from multiple sources working together towards one goal. The Ottawa Charter was a catalyst for health promotion. This paper will then discuss how the Ottawa Charter influenced future research and conference such as the Bangkok Charter. It will also address some of the possible pitfalls that health promotion may face in the future, as the global health landscape changes.

The Ottawa Charter is perhaps most significant piece of research that impacts the importance health promotion. The Ottawa Charter was created in 1986 by a group consisting of policymakers, researchers, and practitioners of public health. It was developed to promote health for all. Health was first viewed holistically. It encompassed an individual’s health, including their mental, social and physical well-being. Potvin & Jones (2011) are a good example of the Ottawa Charter’s impact and the framework it has created for decision-makers and public health professionals to endorse health. Importantly, the Ottawa Charter has allowed health promotion worldwide to penetrate and transform public healthcare systems. Since its inception, Potvin & Jones identified three main trends in health promotion. It is clear that health promotion has become a key function of public health. The UK and Canada are two examples of countries where health promotion is considered to be a core function. Canada’s Ontario state has also established a Ministry of Health Promotion. This is in addition to mandates for promotion of health in other jurisdictions (e.g., Switzerland, Thailand, Austria). Second, states tend to be more focused on plans that reduce health inequalities. As an alternative, to focusing on specific diseases and addressing them individually, the state should also consider reducing stress on social issues like housing, access, and senses of community. Finally, states are now able to promote health in all their policies. Krech & Buckett (2010) demonstrates this. The government has placed a greater emphasis on health and wellness in the development of policies across all areas of governance. Potvin & Jones argue strongly for the Ottawa Charter’s role as the core of modern health promotion.

The Ottawa Charter made significant progress in health promotion. However, there are still many emerging health issues (McMichael & Butler 2006). Global dominance of economic policy that prioritizes liberalised trade and rapid material throughput has resulted in the loss of personal, social and environmental well-being. Because materialism has become more prominent, and especially those in the middle-class, leisure time and social relations have suffered. Overpopulation is a serious threat to the planet’s ability to replenish, absorb, and supply enough food. The result has been a global problem such as the decrease in oil availability, dangerously altering the global climate and land degradation. White (2016) says that to sustain the current population’s consumption at their current levels, it would take an ecological footprint analysis of 1.6 Earths. McMichael & Butler suggest that social institution norms and priorities need to be changed. Current risks to population’s health are vast and can impact whole systems and processes. These risks contrast with the smaller-scale, localized risks to individuals’ health and environments. People are less motivated to make responsible decisions about their own health in a consumer-oriented society. While health promotion should continue to address immediate problems for individuals and communities, it is important to grasp the larger systemic issues that affect health. This requires multi-faceted and multi-sectoral policy formulation and collaboration at an international level.

Along with the problems that health promotion faces, globalisation brings new challenges. Global health promotion is the act of helping individuals take control of their health in a globalized environment. Global health governance refers to the current issues of health promotion, particularly as a result of globalisation. Increased calls for global intergovernmental action have increased since the beginning of the twentieth century. Lee (2006) analyzes global health promotion examples and highlights the weaknesses and strengths of this current strategy. The Healthy Cities Initiative aims at creating urban environments that support holistic wellbeing and provide sustainable social and physical environments. Since its inception in 1999, the number participating cities in this program has increased steadily to more than 3000 in total. This proposal has a problem. All cities are different and require different resources and actions in order to achieve the global goal.

Jackson et al. Jackson and colleagues (2006) looked at eight reviews covering the period of six years. This allowed them to assess the effectiveness as well as the cost-effectiveness, of health promotion strategies that are based on Ottawa Charter. These reviews were examined and analyzed by the authors, who then made a series of key deductions for effective health promotion. As we have discussed, effective health promotion programs can only be achieved by implementing healthy public policies. At the individual, structural and social levels, environments that promote healthy living must be created. Strategies work best when executed across multiple sectors. This includes government, non-government and key stakeholders. Furthermore, Jackson et al. Jackson and colleagues state that community interventions that target personal skill development such as health education are not effective if used alone. They must be combined with other strategies to achieve consistent positive results. The Canadian tobacco control strategies, in which a variety sectors work together to reduce smoking, are cited by the authors. They include bans on advertising and sponsorships, legislation governing where tobacco is sold, restrictions on minors’ access to tobacco products, education programs on school-based consequences and support for counselling and free access to counselling.

In order to improve upon the principles and action areas set out in the Ottawa Charter’s success, a variety of conferences around the world were held, including one in Adelaide and another in Mexico City. 2005 saw the creation of the Bangkok Charter. It adapted the values of the Ottawa Charter to a globalized world. A variety of factors influence health are examined, including inequalities between nations, commercialisation, urbanization patterns, patterns and communication. The Bangkok Charter highlighted the importance of health promotion as a growing responsibility for all areas of government. This is in addition to the original charters that emphasized strengthening community and skill development. The Bangkok Charter draws on evidence from several research articles to conclude that health promotion can only be achieved if the government, international agencies, and private sectors all work together.

The Ottawa Charter, arguably the most important document about health promotion, provides a framework for future research and gives researchers a foundation to work from. The popularity of health promotion has increased significantly. It is now recognised as a core function by many governments, and it is regarded as being equally important as traditional surveillance and prevention roles. Although the Ottawa Charter was a good framework, policymakers now have to take into account the new global sphere. The overpopulation of the planet has brought about unmistakable global issues such as climate changes and declines in natural resources. These issues require an international response, with jurisdictions across the globe working together to address these global challenges. These new developments were recognized by the Bangkok Charter, which encouraged government and non-governmental sectors at national and international levels to work together to develop a multi-faceted approach that empowers people to control their own health. Although researchers will be fascinated by this new approach in health promotion, it is unlikely that any evidence will prove its benefits. It is probable that health promotion in the coming decades will continue to progress. However, health promoters will face new challenges.