Health Promotion for Well being, Equity and Sustainable Development
Our world has just undergone an extraordinary health scenario with the Pandemic crisis. The unprecedented health condition was experienced all over the globe irrespective of the fact that some of the nations possessing the most sophisticated technologies in hand. The suffering was seen across the population despite the unequal socioeconomic status. There is a great lesson to be learnt by the human kind in this regard. The economic impact of ill-health is far more than it is thought. The health we talk about has to be holistic and should reach all of the population. Only then can it curb the mushrooming of a variety of diseases in the societies. A true sustainable development of the world can happen with healthy citizens and a strong workforce.
As the world faces increasing chronic, psychosomatic stress and lifestyle related disorders, the effect of the same can be seen on individuals’ performances in society. The average cost of healthcare has gone up. The healthcare systems can be overburdened creating more losses to the economy. The answer to all these issues can be attained by health promotion.
Health promotion is a process of enabling people to increase control over their health or improve their health. The world health organization defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well being rather than mere absence of disease or infirmary. Good health is not determined by a single factor. A whole lot of factors influence the well being of the individual such as social, environmental and economical conditions. This means the health promoters have to target all these factors for the achievement of health of an individual. It needs a comprehensive approach to make an impact on the health scenario.
The WHO’s Ottawa charter recommends 5 action areas and 3 strategies for health promotion.
- Building healthy public policy : Regulatory policies and restrictions to encourage healthy choices will create more awareness in public. This can include no smoking policies or wearing of helmets.
- Creating supportive environment : In all the places where we work, live, play or learn health can be encouraged through various group activities such as walking, running, yoga programmes.
- Strengthening community action : People coming together to support a health cause such as donations, camps or helping people in need of aid.
- Development of personal skills : Enhancing life skills to support social and personal development. Classes for management of various lifestyle disorders and their prevention.
- Reorienting health services : To give a more holistic approach to health along with providing medical assistance. Doctors and medical personnel can provide everyday health education and information for prevention and management of diseases.
All of the above action areas can be achieved only taking a holistic approach to health and life in general.
Any society to be healthy should be self sustainable. In the sense that the traditional knowledge base has to be utilised alongside modern day health care. Taking an example of many inexpensive methods such as using simple home remedies to take care of common ailments, giving good care for the infants and elderly at homes, and providing clean and nutritional food to each individual can reduce the visits to clinics. These little steps can provide health benefits at the grass root level and target the well being of the entire population across gender and age groups. Since the traditional knowledge is embedded in the culture of any nation it is easier to connect with it and also more beneficial to the society.
Health promotion for well being should include health in all aspects. It is interesting to note that the definition of health itself mentions physical, mental, social and spiritual well being of an individual. As discussed earlier the traditional systems of medicine have a more comprehensive attitude towards attaining health. For example, Ayurveda mentions that heath as a “state of equilibrium of Doshas (bio-energies), Agni(metabolic fire), Dhatus (tissues), Mala (waste products) and a blissful state of soul, mind and senses. Physical well being taken care of through food and medicine, mental health is cared for through practises of meditation, yoga and pranayama. Creating a supportive environment at all places around us such as schools, offices and playgrounds enhances social well being.
Health equity means ensuring that everyone has the chance to be as healthy as possible. This requires health promotion and training. Health should be provided to all despite disparities in race, gender, education, income, location or age. Health courses, online classes that are targeting the needs of ethnic groups or particular conditions such as pregnancy provides lasting benefits. Low cost services including testing and screening facilities will give access to prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of diseases. To curb the disparity it is essential to identify and recognize the needs of specific groups of people like racial or ethnic background, tribes, or gender. One such example would be the transgender or LGBT community.
Sustainable development and health promotion have many common priorities such as respect to equity, financing, monitoring and evaluation in the progress of the society. Enabling healthy environments, building public policies around health issues, reorienting health services will lead to healthy societies. A strong and healthy work force can contribute to the economy in both uplifting the per capita income and also reduce burden on the healthcare system. Developmental activities will become stable if the health promoters are in place in the community. There is also great scope for indigenious medicinal systems to provide holistic and inexpensive ways to deal with prevention and management of ailments.
A health promotion is a continuous process which should be inclusive and provide benefits to all despite the economic disparity in the world. A verse from upanishad “Vasudhaiva kutumbakam” says World is one family. This, truly, should be the spirit of health promotion activities. Only then prosperity, equity and well being will become sustainable.
Article By :
Dr. Suchetha Hedge