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Ottawa Charter on Health Promotion, 1986

The first International Conference on Health Promotion adopted the following Charter in Ottawa on 21 November 1986. It thus calls for active action on the goal of “health for all” by the year 2000 and beyond.

The conference saw itself primarily as a response to growing expectations for a new public health movement. The discussion focused on needs in industrialised countries, but also discussed issues from all other regions. The starting point was the progress made on the basis of the Alma-Ata Declaration on Basic Health Care, the WHO document “Health for All” and the discussion on intersectoral care held during the last World Health Assembly. Counteracting health.

Health promotion

Health promotion aims at a process to give all people a higher degree of self-determination about their health, thereby empowering them to strengthen their health. In order to achieve a comprehensive physical, mental and social well-being, it is necessary for both individual and groups to be able to satisfy their needs, to perceive and realize their wishes and hopes, and to be able to master or change their environment. In this sense, health is to be understood as an essential part of everyday life and not as a primary goal of life. Health stands for a positive concept that emphasizes the importance of social and individual resources for health as well as physical abilities. Responsibility for health promotion therefore lies not only with the health sector but also in all policy areas and aims to promote comprehensive well-being in addition to the development of healthier lifestyles.

Health conditions

Basic conditions and constituent moments of health are peace, adequate housing conditions, education, nutrition, income, a stable eco-system, careful use of existing natural resources,
Social justice and equal opportunities. Any improvement in the state of health is bound to be firmly bound by these basic requirements.


Good health is an essential condition for social, economic and personal development and a crucial part of the quality of life. Political, economic, social, cultural, biological, environmental and behavioural factors can all either be beneficial to health or harm it. Health-promoting action aims to positively influence these factors and promote health through active advocacy.

Empowering and enabling

Health promotion is aimed at equal opportunities in the field of health. Health-promoting action then seeks to reduce existing social disparities in health status and to create a level playing field and conditions to enable all people to have the greatest possible health potential. to realize. This includes both security and self-regulation in a supportive social environment, access to all essential information, the development of practical skills, as well as the possibility of making decisions about their personal health themselves. To be able to meet. People can only develop their health potential as much as possible if they can also influence the factors that influence their health. This applies to women as well as men.

Communicate and network

The health sector alone is not in a position to guarantee the conditions and good prospects for health. Rather, health promotion requires coordinated cooperation involving those responsible in governments, in the health, social and economic sectors, in non-governmental and self-organised associations and initiatives, as well as in local Institutions, in industry and the media. People in all walks of life must be involved as individuals, as families and communities. The occupational groups and social groups, as well as the employees of the health sector, bear great responsibility for a health-oriented mediation between the different interests in society.
Health promotion programmes and strategies should be adapted to the local needs and opportunities of countries and regions, taking into account different social and economic systems and cultural realities.

Active, health-promoting action requires: Developing an overall health-promoting policy

Health promotion involves far more than medical and social care. Health must be put on the political agenda at all levels and in all policy sectors. Politicians need to be made clear about the health consequences of their decisions and their responsibility to promote health.

To this end, a health promotion policy applies various complementary approaches, including legislative initiatives, tax measures and organisational structural changes. Only coordinated, connected action can lead to greater equality of opportunity in the area of health,
Income and social policy. Such joint action leads to the development of more dangerous products, healthier consumer goods and healthier social services, as well as creating cleaner and more restful environments.

A health promotion policy must identify obstacles to making policy decisions and programmes more healthy. It must provide opportunities to overcome these barriers and conflicts of interest. The aim must also be to make the more health-friendly decision for policy makers an easier decision.

Creating health-promoting living environments

Our societies are characterised by complexity and close linkage; Health cannot be separated from other goals. The close bond between humans and the environment forms the basis for a socio-ecological path to health. The ultimate guiding principle for the world, countries, regions and communities is the need to promote mutual support-one about the other, to care for our communities and our natural environment. Special attention deserves to be paid to conserve natural resources as a global task.

Changing living, working and leisure conditions have a significant impact on health. The way a society organises work, working conditions and leisure should be a source of health, not disease. Health promotion creates safe, stimulating, satisfying and pleasant working and living conditions.

Systematic assessment of the health consequences of our rapidly changing environment-particularly in the areas of technology, the world of work, energy production and urban development-is essential and requires active action.

In order to ensure a positive impact on public health. Any health promotion strategy must make the protection of the natural and social environment and the preservation of existing natural resources your subject.

Support health-related community action

Health promotion is achieved in the context of concrete and effective activities of citizens in their community: In the development of priorities, the achievement of decisions and the planning and implementation of strategies. Supporting neighborhoods and communities for venerable self-determination is a central focus of health promotion; Their autonomy and control over their own health concerns must be strengthened.

The strengthening of neighbourhoods and communities is based on the existing human and material possibilities of greater public participation and participation. Self-help and social support, as well as flexible opportunities for greater public participation and participation in health issues, must be supported or redeveloped. Continuous access to all information, the creation of health-oriented learning opportunities and adequate financial support for joint initiatives are necessary prerequisites for this.

Developing personal skills

Health promotion supports the development of personality and social skills through information, health-related education, and the improvement of social skills and living skills. In doing so, it aims to help people exert more influence on their own health and their world of life, while at the same time enabling them to make changes in their daily lives that benefit their health.

It is important to enable people to learn for life and to help them deal with the different stages of their lives, as well as possible chronic diseases and disabilities. This lemming process must be facilitated both in schools and at home, at work and within the community. Educational associations, public bodies, business bodies and non-profit organisations are called upon to act here, as are the educational and health institutions themselves.

Reorienting health services

Responsibility for health promotion is shared in the health services of individuals, groups, doctors and other healthcare workers, health facilities and the state. They need to work together to develop a care system that aims to promote health more and goes far beyond medical-curative care.
Health services must adopt an attitude that sensitively and respectfully recognises the different cultural needs. They should take up and support the wishes of individuals and social groups for a healthier life, as well as open up opportunities for better coordination between the health sector and other social, political, economic forces.

Such a reorientation of health services also requires greater attention to health-related research as well as to the necessary changes in vocational education and training. The aim of these efforts is to change attitudes and forms of organisation, which allow an orientation towards the needs of man as a holistic personality.

On the way to the future

Health is created and lived by people in their everyday environment: Where they play, learn, work and love. Health comes from caring for oneself and for others, by being able to make decisions on your own and to exercise control over one’s own circumstances, as well as by the fact that the society in which one lives is subject to conditions. That enable all its citizens to be health.

Taking care of each other, wholeness and ecological thinking are core elements in the development of health promotion strategies. All stakeholders should recognise as a guiding principle that women and men are equal partners at every stage of the planning, implementation and evaluation of health-promoting actions.

Joint commitment to health promotion

The participants of the conference will call on:

  • To contribute to an overall policy that promotes health and to work to ensure that there is a clear political commitment to health and equal opportunities in all areas;
  • To counteract all efforts aimed at producing products that are harmful to health, depleting resources, unhealthy environmental and living conditions or unhealthy food. It is important to place public health protection issues such as air pollution, hazards at work, residential and spatial planning at the centre of public attention;
  • To reduce health disparities within and between societies and to address the health inequalities created by the rules and practices of those societies;
  • To recognize the people themselves as the bearers of their health and to support them and also financially to enable themselves to keep themselves, their families and friends healthy. Social organisations and the community must be accepted and supported as crucial partners in terms of health, living conditions and well-being;
  • To reorient health services and their resources towards health promotion and to work towards the interaction of health services with other sectors, other disciplines and, more importantly, with the population itself;
  • To regard health and its preservation as an important social investment and challenge and to raise the global ecological question of our ways of life.

Conference participants call for a strong public health promotion alliance to join forces in this regard.

Call for international action

The conference requests the World Health Organization and all other international organizations to take sides in promoting health and to support their individual member countries in promoting health strategies and programmes. to develop.

The conference firmly believes that when people in all areas of everyday life, when social associations and organizations, when governments, the World Health Organization and all other affected groups, their fractures according to the moral and Unite social values of this Charter and develop health promotion strategies that will make “Health for All” a reality in 2000.

[WHO-authorized translation: Hildebrandt/Kickbusch based on designs from the GDR and Badura as well as spleen.]