Trends and Achievements in Promoting Health in the Americas: Developments from 2003-2011
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[Introducción]. Since the First International Conference on Health Promotion took place in Ottawa, Canada, in 1986 and the publication of the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion (WHO, 1986), health promotion has been increasingly utilized as a central public health strategy. Over the last three decades, governments and international organizations worldwide have significantly increased their investments in health promotion programs. Many countries have taken important steps to incorporate health promotion into their national policies and mainstream it into their public health practice in order to operationalize and implement its values and principles. While some countries have achieved significant advances with these efforts, others have encountered important challenges and obstacles (see discussions on later sections of this document). Global initiatives such as the Millennium Development Goals and Primary Health Care have also recognized health promotion as a central strategy to improve health and equity [...] For many countries in the Americas, the arguments as well as the five strategies included in the Ottawa Charter constitute the core of their public health agenda. However, this has not happened without challenges. The Ottawa Charter’s focus on “health for all” in the spirit outlined in the Alma-Ata Declaration on Primary Health Care (1978), implies a shift away from the traditional, hegemonic biomedical paradigm that is the basis of most public health systems. The five “areas of action” defined in the Ottawa Charter for health promotion interventions1 go beyond the traditional emphasis on healthy lifestyles or changes in individual behaviors. Health promotion is seen as a strategy for social change.
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