Health Promotion Programs

Health promotion is concerned with improvement of an individual’s physiological status as well as one’s behaviour. Some key health aspects of concern in this topic include communicable and non-communicable diseases, mental fitness, physical injuries and violence (WHO, 2008). According to Nutbeam in 1998, the outcome of health promotion can be measured by a number of different indicators.

These indicators can be categorized into three: organizational practice and public policy, health literacy and mobilization of society. Organizational practice and public policy refers to the establishment of legislations, policies and regulations related to health, allocation of funding and resources to this area, creation of special administrative structures and the formation of health promoting programs.

Health literacy, on the other hand, includes the population’s change in their behavioural and attitude intent, increase in the knowledge of health-related problems, active involvement in health promotion programs and enhancement of the concept of self-empowerment.

Social mobilization talks about the involvement of the whole community in the promotion of health, such as an observed increase in community empowerment and competency, establishment of connection of the social circle, the advent of social capital and the initiation of community owned health-related programs (Nutbeam, 1998).

The advent of new ways for health improvement outside the realm of conventional, medical treatments proves that there is much attention given to this health promotion. One such alternative approach is the use of therapeutic means and other broad ranges of medical approaches to cure diseases (Hill, 2003).

This paper aims to review some health promotion programs that were implemented by different countries in the world. Their success rates or failure rates will be evaluated. In lieu with this, the approaches used will be investigated whether these led to the success or failure of the program. Furthermore, the advantages and disadvantages of each approach will be enumerated and compared with one another

Review of Related Literature

General Health Promotion Programs through the Years, Across Continents

History of the world’s concern for health promotion can be traced back to the Ottawa Chapter, held in Canada back in 1986 in the First International Conference on Health Promotion. This was the first global gathering that addressed health promotion as an important issue in the international community. Through this, programs such as the establishment of Health Promoting Hospitals, Health Promoting Schools and Healthy Cities were advocated to the world (Griffiths & Ziglio, 2000).

The continuous improvement of the quality of life had always been a priority for any culture. A healthy individual equates to a healthy population, and a healthy population translates to a possibly productive nation. In some countries, the health status of citizens is constantly monitored to bring about an increase in the well-being of individuals. A model example of this can be seen in Canada. For over 30 years, this country had been considered to be the frontrunner for population health improvement in the world.

With the creation of the Health Promotion Directorate in the country, an agency was then available for the sole purpose of health promotion. This department was formed in order to develop programs related to population health improvement and education, as well as for funding relevant programs. Members of this organization include those who are in the tobacco and alcohol industries and other private institutions (Hancock, 1998).

In terms of the allocated budget for health promotion, the Republic of Korean has the highest monetary power among all of the other countries in the world. A special account called The National Health Promotion Fund was set-up by the government for this purpose. The source of funding of this department came solely from the taxes obtained from the tobacco industries, which is considered to be a good source of financial aid (Nam & Engelhardt, 2007).

The World Health Organization, as the leading agency concerned for global health, formed a special division to specifically cater to health alleviation. This section is called the Department of Chronic Disease and Health Promotion or CHP. The main objective of this department is to promote healthier lifestyles to the population, especially those who are living in the underprivileged regions.

In the last health promotion-related conference held in Bangkok, Thailand, CHP led the global community in tackling this subject. Specific topics laid out in this international meeting included the additional actions needed to be done by concerned groups to better implement health promotion policies, the challenges that hinder the implementation of these policies and others (WHO, 2008).

Numerous studies for health promotion can be seen in occupational sites such as in universities, private offices and the like. The importance of this can be seen in the study conducted by Kristensen. It was showed that the deterioration of the health status of personnel in their working area had a tremendous effect in the company, as well as in the economy. An unhealthy worker leads to less productivity of the business, which can ultimately affect revenue generated (Kristensen, 2000).

In lieu with this, improvement of employee health had been one of the major concerns of health promotion studies. In a study conducted in Kuala Lumpur, Indonesia, the target group for health improvement was those involved in the security business: guards who are of Malay-Muslim origin.

The rationale of the study came from the fact that Malaysians have shifted from having an active life to a more sedentary one. To add to this unhealthy lifestyle, nature of food consumed by the population was seen to consist of high fat diet in combination with low fibre food group (Tee, 2002).

This specific group was chosen among other Malaysian employees since a study by Moy and Atiya showed that security guards had a higher propensity to have diabetes, hypertension and obesity when compared to the rest of the country’s population.

Furthermore, guards had been shown to have a high mortality and morbidity risk (Moy & Atiya, 2003). Intervention made for this group include personal, one-to-one counselling for each guard (twice in a year) and group counselling (three to four times in a year) which taught them about the risks of contracting diseases in relation to an unhealthy lifestyle.

More physical activity was encouraged in the group as well a decrease in the number of cigarettes to be smoked in a day, if the guard is a smoker. Health related paraphernalia were also provided to them, especially in their respective working area.

These include weighing scales and biomedical and anthropometric measuring devices and others. It was significantly determined that the group with intervention had a lower level of cholesterol level in the span of two years since the study was started.

The mean reduction of total cholesterol was measured to be at 0.21mmol/l at a 95% confidence interval. For the control group (guards who retained their normal lifestyle) the level of cholesterol of cholesterol fluctuated initially, but at the end of the study period, the total level was seen to increase at a mean value of 0.17 mmol/l at a 95% confidence interval.