Background to a New Politics for Health
In 1986, as part of its drive towards Health for All by the Year 2000, the World Health Organisation sponsored an international conference on health promotion in Ottawa, Canada. Representatives from forty countries pledged themselves to a bold strategy to achieve health for all by moving into the arena of public policy and political commitment to health promotion (the Ottawa Charter). Thirty years later, progress has been slow. PoHG and its partners want to learn the reasons for this, and define actions that can be taken to improve progress. We will do this by bringing together interested parties in an innovative, participatory and action-oriented conference.
Why is this work needed?
- In the UK growing prosperity has not been matched by a reduction in inequalities in health, as has been documented by The Marmot Review of the Global Commission on Social Determinants of Health.
- After 30 years we need a new approach to health promotion– one that has the principles of the original Charter at its heart but helps us to generate a stronger commitment to action.
- There is a lack of public debate about health equity happening outside of academic and policy circles.
- With public health responsibilities now integrated into local authorities - who are focused on delivery and have limited capacity and resources to influence the social determinants of health - little creative work is being done to articulate the sort of future for the UK’s health that we would like to see.
- There is a lack of political will to tackle the underlying determinants of health inequalities.
Our ambition is to start a process of social change that will benefit the whole of society by reducing inequalities in health. In doing so, there should be a marked benefit for the poorer members of our society.
- Celebrate the UK public health movement that emerged from the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion.
- Set a new direction to strengthen action on the political determinants of health.
- Develop a new UK version of the Ottawa Charter;
- Identify areas for strategic intervention, priorities and actions to address the political determinants of health;
- Identify areas for research that can help to support the development of future action;
- Create momentum for people to work together for the public health.
Before the conference, participants will be encouraged to participate in a number of lead-in regional seminars on the five themes of the Ottawa Charter:
We anticipate the seminars will result in position papers, case studies and good practice examples that will stimulate thought and discussion To maximize dialogue and interaction at the conference we will use a workshop format to bring together public health practitioners, academics and lay people to contribute stories and ideas. Expert speakers will set the scene at the start of the event, and review progress at its conclusion. Experienced facilitators and scribes will support the workshop sessions.
- Build healthy public policy
- Create supportive environments
- Strengthen community action
- Develop personal skills
- Reorient health services.
- The Birmingham Health Charter:a new politics for health - a revised charter for equitable health promotion with clear areas for action
- A conference report
- Position papers, case studies and good practice guides
- Research publications in academic, public health and political journals
- Policy papers
- A reinvigorated public health movement
- Policy development based on evidence and commitment to reducing inequalities in health
- A renewed research agenda to support the development of action on the political and social determinants of health.
Why this conference will be different
- To maximise impact, participants will be involved in activity prior to and after the conference.
- It will involve people working in public health at the time of the original Ottawa Charter, for example Professors Margaret Whitehead and Alex Scott-Samuel, so that the learning can be passed on.
- The process for the conference will be creative, dynamic and inspiring. It will generate stories from people from all walks of life about health inequalities and the future we want to see.
Birmingham City University (BCU) has a long history of providing practitioner education in Health Promotion and Public Health. The Public Health team within BCU has a strong reputation for its focus on the complex, dynamic nature of health, and the way that it is determined and influenced by social, economic and political factors. This approach underpins our courses (undergraduate and postgraduate), research and consultancy activities. BCU welcomes the opportunity to work in partnership with PoHG and The Equality Trust in driving forward this agenda.
The Equality Trust is a charitable organisation that works to improve the quality of life in the UK by campaigning to reduce economic inequality. UK income inequality is among the highest in the developed world and evidence shows that this has negative health and social consequences for all sectors of society from the richest to the poorest.
Thirty years is too long to wait. Please, join us.