What does it mean to use a health promotion approach?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Health promotion is the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve their health.” In other words, health promotion is about helping people take care of their own health.

The WHO’s Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion outlines actions that can be used to achieve this goal.  The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion outlines 5 actions to promote health:

  • Build healthy public policy
  • Create supportive environments
  • Strengthen community actions
  • Develop personal skills
  • Re-orient health services

These actions are not mutually exclusive. People often use all or several of these actions at the same time. This is a great way of influencing the different factors that influence health, from people’s knowledge and beliefs, to community norms, to policies and laws.  Participation and equity are important guiding principles for health promotion.