Some bitter-sweet reflections on the Ottawa Charter commemoration cake: a personal discourse from an Ottawa rocker†

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Abstract

The Ottawa Charter both gave health promotion a solid framework and health promoters an identity. Yet, health promotion has far from reached its potential in being internalized in public health politics. Advocacy for health is one of the core missions for health promotion and the 25-year celebration of the Ottawa Charter offers a free ride, instead of being a missed opportunity. WHO has not met the expectations in taking advantage of the momentum and outcomes from the long series of global health promotion conferences. The series represents a lifeline for health promotion. Concepts like healthy public policy, supportive environments, social determinants, health and human rights, whole of government, globalization and others have been elaborated and framed in a health promoting context. The downside is that the footprints have not been bold, in particular not internationally. An upside is the development of research and science, underscored by a rapid development of scientific journals, textbooks, academic institutions and posts. A question arising is whether practise and policy making are left behind, since implementation on a grand scale still is lacking? Further and future efforts must be devoted to explore the processes and art of policy making. There is a need for more narratives and more health promoters involving themselves in policy making and politics. Health promotion is as relevant for the twenty-first century as ever. The challenges and opportunities are evident; the increasing global burden of non-communicable diseases, ageing populations, harmful use of alcohol, social determinants and fair societies improved governance and more. Health promotion can add value and WHO can step up its engagement.

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