Journal Article

Enable, mediate, advocate

Hans Saan and Marilyn Wise

in Health Promotion International

Volume 26, issue suppl_2, pages ii187-ii193
Published in print December 2011 | ISSN: 0957-4824
Published online December 2011 | e-ISSN: 1460-2245 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/heapro/dar069
Enable, mediate, advocate

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The authors of the Ottawa Charter selected the words enable, mediate and advocate to describe the core activities in what was, in 1986, the new Public Health. This article considers these concepts and the values and ideas upon which they were based. We discuss their relevance in the current context within which health promotion is being conducted, and discuss the implications of changes in the health agenda, media and globalization for practice. We consider developments within health promotion since 1986: its central role in policy rhetoric, the increasing understanding of complexities and the interlinkage with many other societal processes. So the three core activities are reviewed: they still fit well with the main health promotion challenges, but should be refreshed by new ideas and values. As the role of health promotion in the political arena has grown we have become part of the policy establishment and that is a mixed blessing. Making way for community advocates is now our challenge. Enabling requires greater sensitivity to power relations involved and an understanding of the role of health literacy. Mediating keeps its central role as it bridges vital interests of parties. We conclude that these core concepts in the Ottawa Charter need no serious revision. There are, however, lessons from the last 25 years that point to ways to address present and future challenges with greater sensitivity and effectiveness. We invite the next generation to avoid canonizing this text: as is true of every heritage, the heirs must decide on its use.

Keywords: advocacy; enabling; mediating; Ottawa Charter

Journal Article.  3909 words. 

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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