The Ottawa Charter

In 1986 in Ottawa, Canada, the World Health Organization (WHO) developed an approach to improve the health of populations and individuals. This is known as the Ottawa Charter and is used in New Zealand as a framework for planning public health.

The Ottawa Charter shows that to improve the health of populations and individuals there is a need to look wider than just providing public health services.

If people are able to take responsibility for the health of their families and themselves they need:

  • protection from environmental factors leading to health issues and risks
  • adequate housing
  • a liveable income
  • employment
  • educational opportunities
  • a sense of belonging and being valued
  • a sense of control over life circumstances.

These factors are called the determinants of health. You can find out more about these in A New Way to Talk About the Social Determinants of Health.

Bangkok Charter for Health Promotion

An international document that builds on the Ottawa Charter is the Bangkok Charter for Health Promotion in a Globalised World developed in Bangkok on 11 August 2005.

The Bangkok Charter identifies actions, commitments and pledges required to address the determinants of health in a globalised world through health promotion. Key aspects include:

Progress towards a healthier world requires strong political action, broad participation and sustained advocacy. Health promotion has an established repertoire of proven effective strategies which need to be fully utilised.

To make further advances in implementing these health strategies, all sectors and settings must act to:

  • advocate for health based on human rights and solidarity
  • invest in sustainable health policies, actions and infrastructure to address the determinants of health
  • build capacity for policy development, leadership, health promotion practice, knowledge transfer, health research, and health literacy
  • regulate and legislate to ensure a high level of protection from harm and enable equal opportunity for health and well-being for all people
  • partner and build alliances with public, private, non-governmental and international organisations and civil society to create sustainable actions.

The four key commitments are to make the promotion of health:

  • central to the global development agenda
  • a core responsibility for all of government
  • a key focus of communities and civil society
  • a requirement for good corporate practice.

Māori models of health

The Māori philosophy towards health is based on a wellness or holistic health model. The Māori health models section on the Ministry of Health website has more information on these models.