Our understanding of health and disease has changed dramatically in recent years and decades and continues to change at the same pace as social conditions do. Health was long thought to be the mere absence of disease. Then a new understanding of health began taking hold and won out at the latest when consensus on the Ottawa Charter was achieved at the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1986. According to this new view taken by health policymakers and health promotion practitioners, health should be defined positively, namely as a person’s sense of overall physical, mental and social well-being.
The aim of health promotion is to help everyone achieve precisely this sense of overall well-being. It seeks to do so by motivating people to opt for a healthy lifestyle. Of course, consistent healthy behavior by an individual only bears fruit if the person’s environment is also conducive to it. For this reason, behavioral change must be accompanied by like changes in relationships (relational change). The latter is an essential aspect of health promotion. The underlying idea is that people will only really achieve a sense of well-being if the environment in which they live and learn, work and play, reside and love is one that promotes health and not illness and disease. In other words, health promotion addresses not only an individual’s lifestyle but also an aspect summed up in another important WHO document – the Jakarta Declaration of 1997 – as the need “to achieve and improve control over health.”
Please be informed that all other pages of the section "Health Promotion" are available in German only.