The ESN was present at the 8th Global Forum on Healthcare Promotion, held at the Maison de la Paix, in Geneva, and hosted by the Alliance for Health Promotion (A4HP). In official connection with the WHO and having an international network of stakeholders, A4HP is working towards strengthening civil society’s capacities for action for health promotion.
The day’s theme was: “Promoting healthcare for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs): translating global declarations into actions and impact at the community level”. The audience was first reminded that NCDs are responsible for 71% of all deaths and are caused by 5 factors: tobacco, excessive alcohol consumption, lack of physical activity, unhealthy diet and pollution – this last factor only having been recently recognised by the WHO.
Contributors bemoaned the gap between discourse and the reality on the ground, making its reduction a key challenge. The bottom-up approach, currently favoured, makes communities – and more generally civil society– key players in preventing and controlling NCDs. The challenge is therefore to adapt the programmes to cultural contexts and give communities the ability to become autonomous and take responsibility for themselves.
With this objective in mind, projects promoting healthcare that incorporate the challenges of mobilising communities were presented. Consequently, in Kitale, in Kenya, healthcare promotion workshops have been bringing together community members since 2012. The latter are becoming ambassadors, able to mobilise and raise awareness among their peers.
A holistic approach to health has also been advocated, which should take account of physical, emotional, social, intellectual, environmental and spiritual health. Consequently, and given the multitude of factors affecting NCDs, it was reiterated that promoting healthcare should be the objective of multi-sectoral policies.