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Regional Office for the South West Pacific

Statement on behalf of IUHPE at:
WHO World Health Assembly, Geneva, 19 May 2000
Agenda item 12.13: Health Promotion

by Dr Rosmarie Erben, IUHPE/SWP Regional Director

Health promotion was one of the subjects to be discussed during the 53rd World Health Assembly, which took place in Geneva from 15-20 May 2000. It was the last item on the agenda for Committee A and time did not permit a full discussion. It was, therefore, suggested to postpone the discussion to the 54th World Health Assembly in 2001. Unfortunately, under this circumstances, the IUHPE representative had no opportunity to speak as foreseen. The prepared Statement is herewith presented to our readers.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak on behalf of the International Union for Health Promotion and Education. As the leading non-governmental organization in the field of health promotion, the IUHPE feels encouraged to support the implementation of Resolution WHA 51.12 on health promotion. We have followed with interest WHO's steps towards the implementation and carefully reviewed the progress report presented to this fifty-third WHA.

I would like to focus my comments on four issues mentioned in the report:

We welcome WHO's continued appreciation of the wider context in which people live for their health and wellbeing. The focus on determinants of health and ill-health forms the basis for comprehensive health promotion strategies. In line with the Ottawa Charter, which we consider to be the leading policy document, health promotion aims at the development of living and working conditions conducive to health and at achieving equity through the use of approaches that empower communities and individuals.

We have noted WHO's intention to strengthen the evidence base for health promotion policy and practice and are pleased to draw your attention to a project on evidence, carried out by IUHPE with the support of the European Commission, involving leading academicians, practitioners, and members of the political audience. It resulted in a two part set of documents on "Shaping Public Health in a New Europe, The Evidence of Health Promotion Effectiveness". The documents demonstrate that health promotion is a valuable, effective, relatively inexpensive strategy for improving health and quality of life. They have been widely distributed and all members of the WHO Executive Board received copies in January of this year. They also served as basis for a dinner-debate with Members of the Parliament of the European Union, arranged by IUHPE, on the theme of 'Equity in Health'. We have now designed a global programme - "Using the evidence to Move Forward".

We are glad that WHO states it will continue to give and mobilize support for healthy cities, islands, communities, schools, workplaces, markets and health settings. Global and regional leadership is needed in these important areas of health promotion work while building on country successes. As health promotion has been merged into the new cluster on Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health, we feel obliged to point out that they have their strength beyond a specific disease focus. While health promotion strategies can be successsfully applied to prevent noncommunicable as well as communicable diseases, health promotion must continue to be valued as a comprehensive process which enables people to take control over and improve their health. We look forward to actions by the Director General to raise health promotion in this broad sense to the top priority list of WHO, as it was requested in the Resolution (WHA 51.12) on health promotion which was passed by the WHA in May 1998.

WHO co-sponsors the Fifth Global Conference on Health Promotion in June 2000 in Mexico City to draw attention to the contribution of health promotion strategies to redresssing growing inequity in health. IUHPE will be strongly involved and wishes to highlight the importance of follow up through the development, implementation and monitoring of country-wide plans of action for promoting health in line with a basic framework which will be agreed upon during the Mexico Conference. In this context, I would like to mention that the IUHPE contributes to the follow-up from the Mexico Conference, and this includes the XVII World Conference on Health Promotion and Health Education with the theme "Health: An Investment for a Just Society" in July 2001 in Paris, celebrating at the same time the 50th anniversary of the IUHPE. WHO has kindly agreed to co-sponsor this Conference.

Finally, I would like to thank the chair for giving me the floor and assure WHO and the Member States of IUHPE's will and capacity to act as partner in health promotion on global, regional and country levels. Thank you.

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