Publications European Commission - Options to Foster Health Promoting Health Systems

Report of the Expert Panel on effective ways of investing in Health (EXPH) - European Commission


Health promotion has a critical role to play in improving the health and wellbeing of current and future generations of EU citizens. Based upon a socio-ecological model of health, health promotion has been defined by the WHO (1986) as “the process of enabling people to increase control over, and improve, their health”. Health promotion moves the focus from individuals at risk of developing illness to systems and environments that shape the development of good health at a population level. As such, it is an essential component of modern health systems in order to ensure that all human beings can have healthy lives, can maximise their health potential and that no one is left behind. Cost -effective and feasible health promotion interventions have been shown to make a real difference in improving population health, reducing risks for non-communicable diseases, improving mental health, increasing health literacy, and addressing the social determinants of health and health equity. However, the level of infrastructure and capacity to support health promotion action varies considerably across EU countries. The concept of health promotion is often poorly understood and there is a limited appreciation of the infrastructure, resources, knowledge and skills that are required to translate health promotion into action. As a result, there are significant gaps in implementation in many countries, particularly in terms of mainstreaming health promotion within health services, and there is a lack of investment in developing the necessary health promotion systems for substantive progress to be made. Continue to read...