Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion

The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion is a 1986 document produced by the World Health Organization. It was launched at the first international conference for health promotion that was held in Ottawa, Canada.


The thirtieth World Health Assembly, held in 1977, had highlighted the importance of promoting health so that all the international citizens had an "economically productive" level of health by the year 2000. Further, a localised European taskforce developed a strategy for health promotion in the WHO European Region.

Action areas of the Ottawa Charter

Five action areas for health promotion were identified, these are:

  1. Building healthy public policy - health promotion policy combines diverse but complementary approaches, including legislation, fiscal measures, taxation and organisational change. Health promotion policy requires the identification of obstacles to the adoption of healthy public policies in non-health sectors and the development of ways to remove them.
  2. Creating supportive environments - the protection of the natural and built environments and the conservation of natural resources must be addressed in any health promotion strategy. Work, leisure and living environments should be a source of health for people.
  3. Strengthening community action - community development draws on existing human and material resources to enhance self-help and social support, and to develop flexible systems for strengthening public participation in, and direction of, health matters. This requires full and continuous access to information and learning opportunities for health, as well as funding support
  4. Developing personal skills through information and education skills - enabling people to learn (throughout life) to prepare themselves for all of its stages and to cope with chronic illness and injuries is essential. This has to be facilitated in school, home, work and community settings.
  5. Re-orientating health care services toward prevention of illness and promotion of health - the role of the health sector must move increasingly in a health promotion direction, beyond its responsibility for providing clinical and curative services. Reorienting health services also requires stronger attention to health research, as well as changes in professional education and training.

Also, three basic strategies for health promotion are to:

  1. Advocate: To create an environment of which a positive health choice can be made
  2. Enable: To encourage positive lifestyle changes by explaining the benefits of change
  3. Mediate: To try to mediate between two parties with opposing interests to come to a compromise for the promotion of health.

Developments after Ottawa


  • Ewles L, Simnett I (2005) Promoting Health - a practical guide Balliere Tindall: Edinburgh
  • WHO Europe (1999) Health 21 - Health for all in the 21st Century WHO Europe: Copenhagen
  • WHO (1999) Reducing health inequalities - proposals for health promotion and actions WHO: Copenhagen.

See also

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