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Strategic directions: 1998-2004

Last updated: 14 November 1998

The International Union for Health Promotion and Education is nearly half a century old, and draws its strength from being a unique worldwide association of individuals and organisations committed to improving the health of the people of the world through education, community action and the development of healthy public policies.

Through periods of major change in the external environment and within the field of health education and health promotion, the organisation has proven to be relevant and resilient. It has flourished as the only global, non-governmental organization of practitioners in this field, and cooperates closely with WHO, UNESCO, UNICEF, other major intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations to influence and facilitate the development of health promotion strategies and projects.

It is an open and inviting organization, providing an opportunity to build an international network that encourages the free exchange of ideas, knowledge, and experiences, as well as facilitating the development of relevant collaborative projects at global and regional levels.

Our Changing World

The prerequisites for health - peace, shelter, education, food, income, a stable eco-system, sustainable resources, social justice and equity - remain unchallenged. Their presence or absence continues to define the reasons why some of the world's people are healthy and others are not. It is vital therefore, that the IUHPE as an organisation overtly accounts for the political, economic, social, and physical environment in which it operates.

As world's poorer nations strive to achieve economic, social and political development there are many contradictions. In some countries, growing wealth has eased the lives and improved the health of many people, although it is often being achieved at the expense of the physical environment and has created injust social and economic inequities among people.

Most countries in the world are going through a restructuring process in efforts to respond to the pressures of a rapidly globalised economy. In many countries, this involves a decreasing role for governments in solving problems. Even in the richest countries, social investments by governments are being eroded - including publically funded health services. The resulting social and economic insecurity is rapidly translated into increased inequity in health between rich and poor within all countries. There is little question that a growing number of people have less and less opportunity "to make healthy choices"

Thus, the overriding global concern for the IUHPE is the impact on health of growing disparities between the rich and the poor, and the need to identify new partners and new ways of working to respond to these challenges.

This rapidly changing global political, economic, and social environments within which the IUHPE is operating require the organisation to regularly review its strategic direction and its capacity to serve the needs of its members. The updated strategic directions outlined in this paper revisits the IUHPE 's mission, goals, objectives, and priorities for action, and is intended to provide a clear sense of direction and purpose for the organisation for the six years 1999-2004.


The IUHPE, as a global organisation, has to respond to these global realities positively, recognising:

The IUHPE can make a difference to global health

We must build on our considerable strengths to play a meaningful role in the world arena. The organisation's major strength lies in the quality of the skills and knowledge of the membership, and the capabilities of the Headquarters and Regional Offices in securing partnerships and resources to enable the organisation to pursue its goals. The IUHPE needs to unlock this potential by enlarging and involving its membership. The regional offices have a central role in achieving the overall global strategy.

The work of the IUHPE is more important than ever

As governments retreat from a direct role in actions to promote and protect the health of their citizens, the role played by non-government organisations becomes increasingly important. Small non government organisations such as the IUHPE work most effectively through partnerships. The IUHPE has the commitment and people to play a leadership role in health promotion in collaboration with existing and new partners. We have to break through traditional barriers between public and private, government and non-government sectors in pursuit of our health promotion goals.

The IUHPE cannot do everything at once

We must make hard decisions about priorities, and invest our limited resources in pursuing strategic directions that address our priority goals and objectives. This includes the need to strengthen the Organisation.

These Strategic Directions will provide focus and direction for activity by the membership, the Regional Offices and the Headquarters.

Mission, Goals, and Objectives


The mission of the International Union for Health Promotion and Education (the IUHPE) is to promote global health and to contribute to the achievement of equity in health between and within countries of the world.

The IUHPE fulfils its mission by building and operating an independent, global, professional network of people and institutions to encourage the free exchange of ideas, knowledge, know-how, experiences, and the development of relevant collaboration projects, both at global and regional levels.


The IUHPE has three major goals :

  • Advocate for health
    to advocate for actions that promote the health of populations throughout the world;

  • Improve effectiveness
    to improve and advance the quality and effectiveness of health promotion and health education practice and knowledge;

  • Build capacity
    to contribute to the development of capacity in countries to undertake health promotion and health education activity.


The IUHPE will pursue these major goals by:

  • advocating for investment in health promotion and health education by governments, intergovernmental organisations, non-governmental organizations and the private sector;

  • undertaking activities that contribute to the development of knowledge and practice that further the field of health promotion and health education;

  • disseminating evidence-based knowledge and practical experience in health promotion and health education;

  • providing mechanisms for the exchange of ideas, experience and knowledge that promote health;

  • providing a global forum for mutual support and professional advancement of its members;

  • building alliances and partnerships amongst all sectors, based on agreed ethical principles, mutual understanding and respect;

  • strengthening the capacity of the organisation to fulfil its mission.

The IUHPE will achieve its goals and objectives by implementing the following strategies:


  • Gathering and presenting the evidence to enable advocacy to be conducted by the organisation on a range of issues of international significance;

  • Providing consultation to governments and organisations about the implementation of effective health promotion policies, strategies and structures;

  • Continuing to assist countries to develop and improve their national institutions for health promotion and health education.

Professional and Technical Development

  • Continuing to contribute to the professional development of health promotion and health education practitioners, and to the development of the range, quality and effectiveness of health promotion and health education across the world;

  • Continuing to conduct technical activities with a particular focus on synthesising and disseminating information about effective practice across the world.


  • Strengthening the networks of people and institutions involved in health promotion and health education throughout the world, and creating new ones when need arises.

Partnership Building

  • Developing partnerships that will enable the organisation to increase its active role in health promotion and health education in the international arena

Strengthening the organisation's capacity

  • Increasing the membership in all categories and across all regions of the world, with particular emphasis on increasing the membership of developing countries

  • Involving the membership (in all categories) more actively in the work of the organisation

  • Increasing the security of the funding for the basic infrastructure of the global organisation

  • Strengthening the working relationships between Headquarters and the Regional Offices and among the Regional Offices.

The IUHPE will implement its strategies - advocacy, professional and technical development, networking, partnership building, and strengthening the organisation - by undertaking the following proposed priorities for action:

  1. Publish Journal

  2. Organise conferences and meetings

  3. Develop and sustain networks

  4. Manage projects which are compatible with priority goals and objectives

  5. Prepare position statements on effective health promotion practice, training standards and infrastructure development
These will form the basis of the IUHPE Work Plan for the next three years (1999-2001)

Publish Journal

The quarterly Journal Promotion & Education communicates, and promotes the dissemination of, information about current practice in promoting health in a range of settings, addressing a range of health issues, or the health of specific populations ; about effective practice in promoting health ; and about building individuals', communities' , countries' and international capacity to promote the health of populations.

The Journal is widely regarded as one of the organisation's most effective contributions to the practice of health promotion across the world. It is also the official vehicle for communication within the IUHPE and about the IUHPE. It reaches all members four times a year and is an essential tool of communication with global membership and with external organisations.

Organise conferences and meetings

IUHPE's World and Regional conferences promote discussion about and dissemination of effective practice in health promotion and health education across the world, with particular emphasis on improving the quality and effectiveness of practice designed to reduce inequalities in health ; they enhance the international network of practitioners who promote health across the world ; and they contribute to the body of knowledge that underpins health promotion.

They offer the opportunity to prepare and endorse policies that can form the basis for advocacy by the organisation, and for the furthering of the Global Network.

Through a series of international seminars and workshops the organisation will contribute to the development of the knowledge base for, and obtain international consensus on key issues such as:

  • role of governments in promoting health
  • role of the private sector in promoting health
  • role of NGOs in promoting health
  • role of intergovernmental organisations in promoting health
  • measures of success in health promotion - what constitutes success, and how should/can it be measured?
  • measurement of progress toward health for all.
Through its conferences and seminars the IUHPE will also offer opportunities for training on key issues such as advocacy, development and implementation of healthy public policy, reproductive health, electronic communication, building effective partnerships, etc.

Develop and sustain networks

The global network development sessions conducted at the World and Regional Conferences together with the increased use of electronic communication (listserv, webpages) to encourage active communication among members is considered to be a vital step to increase the dissemination of information about and within the IUHPE ; and to.communicate information on effective practice among health professionals, to inform them and to mobilise them for action, when necessary.

Manage projects which are compatible with priority goals and objectives

The IUHPE will seek to build strong partnership through international projects and events, with organisations that share the same aims and objectives.Through such partnership, the IUHPE helps to build and contributes to alliances among many different organizations in the public, voluntary, and private sectors.

Prepare position statements

on effective health promotion practice, training standards and infrastructure development with recommendations for action by governments, and organisations (including private sector organisations). This will include the appropriate allocation of resources to promote the health of the populations in addition to investment in health care services.

The IUHPE will assist in the development of standards of competence for the health promotion workforces in different parts of the world, working with different population groups in different settings.

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