Health promotion and health systems: some unfinished business†

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Abstract

One of the five action domains in the Ottawa Charter was Reorienting Health Services. In this paper, we reflect on why progress in this domain has been somewhat lethargic, particularly compared with some of the other action domains, and why now it is important to renew our commitment to this domain. Reorienting health services has been largely overlooked and opportunities missed, although good exceptions do exist. The occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Ottawa Charter represents an important opportunity for health promotion to: (i) renew its active voice in current policy debate and action and (ii) enhance achievements made to date by improving our efforts to advocate, enable and mediate for the reorientation of health services and systems. We outline six steps to reactivate and invest more in this action domain so as to be in a better position to promote health equitably and sustainably in today's fast changing world. Though our experience is mainly based in the European context, we hope that our reflections will be of some value to countries outside of this region.

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