The Bangkok Charter for Health Promotion in 2005 defines Health Promotion as the process of enabling people to increase control over their health and its determinants and thereby improve their health. We are to look at not just people and their individual health but also what contributes externally to each individual person’s health. We look at the community, the national or even global health determinants that contribute or negatively impact that. It looks at a larger picture of health rather than an individual person being healthy or sick. And by looking at that bigger picture we see that health is not the objective but is actually an enabler, a resource — the way people are living their daily lives to the utmost so that they are able to function well and contribute to society. In this new day and age, technology serves as a double-edged sword. It may provide certain conveniences but at the same time it provides new challenges and problems. Take for example the case of e-cigarettes. While it does keep you from filling your system with nicotine and your lungs with tar, it is still unknown what the long term effects are from inhaling the chemicals/flavors of these electronic cigars.
Our Department of Health has ongoing efforts in advancing Health Promotion in the country. These efforts have been initiated even before the enactment of the Universal Healthcare Act. Among these is the creation of bicycle lane networks and pedestrian walkways to encourage people and provide an alternative mode of transportation and getting much needed exercise at the same time. In the DOH program, the priority areas targeted for health promotion are: physical activity and healthy diet, environmental health, immunization, substance use, mental health, sexual and reproductive health, and violence and other forms of injury.
However, the national government’s efforts will be for naught if the local executives will not do their part in making sure these initiatives are carried out. That is why it is critical that LGU’s not only implement these policies but also make programs to better the community lifestyles. An example would be anti-smoking ordinances. And these efforts should be coupled with education. It is not enough that ordinances or laws are created — it is critical that people are aware of the dangers and/or benefits of their lifestyles to their health. School campaigns are encouraged to make the younger generations better than the older generations in terms of understanding and living a healthy lifestyle.
This is also true in the private sector where businesses can educate their employees and promote programs to encourage healthy eating and living. Some managers even feel that Health Promotion is a responsibility. They provide webinars on healthy food, healthy lifestyles and preventive measures for the better well-being of the employees. Education is the key to have people buy in and be on board.
In this day and age where commercialism has taught us that we need to have soda every time we eat, or that fried, processed foods are so good that we need to have it on a daily basis, or that the more flavorful the meal the better — switching to a healthier option is more than a challenge. A person should be determined, or at the very least, inspired to change his lifestyle. That is why education is critical. Today, government agencies and private groups are making efforts to ensure that the population is aware of the facts and where to get help. It’s now up to us to choose to be healthy.