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Upon comparative analysis of the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) implemented by the United Nations, it is observed that there is a complimentary pattern that makes them all inter-related in a way or another. With an emphasis on SDG-3 (Good health and well-being), the assurance of healthy lives and well-being cannot be reached without universal access to sexual and reproductive health (SDG-5), inclusive and healthy cities (SDG-11), and even less without education and knowledge (SDG-4). Over the years, these prospects have been quite evident and of great public health importance especially when tackling matters of health promotion globally.

The concept of health promotion was birthed in its first international conference in 1986. Health promotion refers to the range of interventions designed towards the protection of the individuals’ health and the prevention of pathogenic diseases. It mainly focuses on four key elements including governance, health literacy, healthy cities, and social mobilization. When the tobacco epidemic first emerged, the implementation of a tax-increase policy on cigarettes led to a decrease in global consumption, and that policy was named by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the most effective approach to minimizing tobacco use.

This insight emphasizes how important is the governance to prevent millions of deaths. Also, with this current novel coronavirus outbreak that the world is dealing with, we can assess the effectiveness of social mobilization in spreading awareness on precautionary health practices. Noteworthy is the fact that the World Health Organization has utilized every means within its capacity including celebrities to spread the word. In order to flatten the curve, health promotion has proven to be a feasible approach but this is not without challenges.

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Health promotion is primarily focused on equipping individuals with the necessary tools and resources to enable them to take control over their health as well as make them potential advocates where they are the main drivers of health-related outcomes. This mission requires mobilization of different key players such as civil societies, NGOs, and all relevant stakeholders in order to promote strong leadership and stewardship. It is also important to mention here that globally, the lack of implementation on matters relating to health promotion especially in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) can generate unhealthy behaviors that determine not only individuals’ health but also of the society at large.

Using health promotion techniques to spread knowledge and raise awareness, especially among young people, can lead to the prevention of numerous diseases and unwanted mortality. The intellectual mechanism of young people is openly disposed to the learning, and getting them exposed to educative sessions about healthy practices leads to consciousness, which is exactly what people need to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  In fact, many countries are yet to include health promotion in their agenda, and if done, weaker budgets are invested, as well as a lack of trained professionals that would exclusively take charge of health promotion initiatives. On a bigger scale, health promotion requires coordination and collaboration from different sectors, which is hard to guarantee without strong strategic leadership that is lacking worldwide. Much still needs to be done in this light to enhance health promotion.

The inclusion of health informative sessions into the primary and high-school curriculum will serve as a potential approach as students will be exposed to the fundamentals and subsequently become accountable citizens. Furthermore, being updated with recent advancements and information in science through research would be a needed step for the improvement of strategies and techniques of health promotion implementation. Also, countries can rely on evidence-based findings to enact effective and reliable policies and regulations. Furthermore, their sustained encouragement and advocacy for a multi-sector collaboration, with avoidance of conflict of interests, could be one of the major steps to build a strong mobilization for healthier lives.

Health promotion needs a strong investment of financial and human resources, as well as infrastructure and most importantly time, which if acted upon, could generate a “ better amount of everything”.

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Eastern Herald.