Washington, D.C, 2 October 2019 (PAHO/WHO) – Ministers of health from throughout the Americas endorsed a series of measures that will place health promotion at the center of actions to address health inequities, empower communities and ensure the health and well-being of all people.
The Strategy and Plan of Action on Health Promotion within the context of the Sustainable Development Goals 2019-2030, adopted by the 57th Directing Council of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), urges measures to promote health and well-being that go beyond a focus on individual behavior toward a wide range of social and environmental interventions.
“The conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age have a huge impact on the health and well-being of communities.”
“While it is important that everyone has access to health services that provide treatment and prevention of disease, we will not achieve the targets outlined in SDG3 unless we tackle the factors that lead to poor health in the first place,” said Dr. Gerry Eijkemans, Chief of the Health Promotion and Social Determinants unit at PAHO. “The conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age have a huge impact on the health and well-being of communities. This is why it is so vital that health promotion approaches are implemented so that we can tackle health issues at their root cause.”
In the Region of the Americas, problems such as chaotic urban growth, uncontrolled industrial development, environmental pollution, climate change, and increased violence all threaten people’s health and hamper the creation of healthy settings.
While some progress has been made in addressing these problems, health systems continue to focus primarily on the treatment of disease rather than on promoting and maintaining health and well-being. In order to strengthen health systems in the Americas, health promotion should be incorporated into national health policies and strategies. This will enable a better focus on working with communities to create healthy living conditions.
The Plan also emphasizes the need to promote equity and inclusivity, with a specific focus on gender, ethnicity, interculturality and disabilities.
The Plan establishes four strategic lines of action. These include:
- Strengthen key healthy settings – including efforts to promote health and improve quality of live through schools, universities, housing, workplaces, markets and other common spaces in urban and rural areas
- Enable community participation and empowerment and civil society engagement – by ensuring full and continuous access to complete, accurate, and appropriate health information and comprehensive health education
- Enhance governance and intersectoral work to improve health and well-being and address the social determinants of health
- Strengthen health systems and services by incorporating a health promotion approach.
This Plan is in line with the Astana Declaration of 2018, which recognizes health promotion and primary health care as complementary strategies to strengthen health systems for equitable health outcomes.
The Strategy and Plan of Action on Health Promotion within the context of the Sustainable Development Goals 2019-2030 also highlights the need for countries of the Americas to work with other sectors using a health-in-all-policies approach; to strengthen capacities for addressing the social determinants of health ; and to advance the application of a primary healthcare approach focused on individuals, families, and communities.