The politics of health promotion: channelling our anger and our hope for the wellbeing of people, place and planet

Dooris, Mark T orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-5986-1660 (2024) The politics of health promotion: channelling our anger and our hope for the wellbeing of people, place and planet. International Journal of Health Promotion and Education . ISSN 1463-5240

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With the Institute of Health Promotion and Education turning 60, it is timely to reflect on health promotion’s journey. While health promotion can celebrate many advances, much remains to be done. This paper considers the enormous challenges we face and how we might move forward by working not only within, but beyond, the five action areas of the Ottawa Charter: engaging creatively with the opportunities offered by the changing contexts in which we operate, for example in relation to integrated care systems and place-based partnerships; learning from our experience of COVID-19 to ensure joined-up whole system responses that nurture the transformative change necessary to ‘build back better’ for a sustainable and healthy future; and advocating a new economic vision and model that rejects economic growth as an end in itself and refutes the assumption that such growth will automatically result in improved population and planetary health. Health promotion is inherently political. Reflecting on the UK’s current situation – with spiralling child, food and fuel poverty, flatlined/reduced life expectancy, increased inequalities, and the ongoing failure of government to take on powerful vested interests through legislative, regulatory and fiscal measures – we face a crisis. However, a crisis represents not only danger, but also a potential turning point. This should motivate the health promotion workforce to harness and channel its righteous anger; and give space for active hope that we – as citizens, professionals and members of families and communities – can envision, advocate and fight to secure the wellbeing of people, places and the planet.

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