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Healthy Settings and Health Promotion

The Healthy Settings movement came out of the WHO Strategy of Health for All and the approach was more clearly laid out in the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion in 1986. (See "Milestones in Health Promotion - Statement from conferences since the Ottowa Charter" for how thinking on health promotion has developed since the Ottowa Charter.)

A healthy setting is

“The place or social context in which people engage in daily activities in which environmental, organizational, and personal factors interact to affect health and wellbeing.” (Source : Health Promotion Glossary


where people actively use and shape the environment; thus it is also where people create or solve problems relating to health. Settings can normally be identified as having physical boundaries, a range of people with defined roles, and an organizational structure.

Or, put another way,

“Health is created and lived by people within the settings of their everyday life; where they learn, work, play and love” (Ottowa Charter, 1986)

Settings can be used to promote health as they are vehicles to reach individuals, to gain access to services, and to synergistically bring together the interactions throughout the wider community. They are particularly valuable when tackling health problems that required the involvement of several agencies.

Actions often involve some level of organizational development, including changes to the physical environment or to the organizational structure, administration and management. 

Examples include Healthy Schools, Prisons, Workplaces, Cities, Towns and Villages.


Policy developments since the Ottowa Charter

Building on the Ottawa Charter, the Sundsvall Statement of 1992 called for the creation of supportive environments with a focus on settings for health. In 1997, the Jakarta Declaration emphasized the value of settings for implementing comprehensive strategies and providing an infrastructure for health promotion. Today, various settings are used to facilitate the improvement of public health throughout the world.


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