22nd IUHPE World Conference on Health Promotion


The Municipal Health Secretariat Curitiba, the International Union for Health Promotion and Education and their partners are looking forward to hosting this important global public health and health promotion event. The 22nd IUHPE World Conference on Health Promotion will take place in Curitiba, Brazil. The aim is to create a global forum where researchers, practitioners and policy makers involved in and concerned about the promotion of health and equity will share and discuss new knowledge, innovations in practice and policy and cutting edge experience.

Thematic scope

Despite urgent calls for governments at all levels to take action on the social determinants of health such as the distribution of resources and power, the gap between those at the top and those of the bottom of social hierarchies is still growing. The concentration of global wealth into an increasingly limited proportion of individuals has reached an unprecedented level. The health impacts of such a concentration are visible globally through international comparisons showing that population health in wealthy nations is still improving pushing the limits of human lifespan to unchartered territories, whereas that in the poorest and most disorganized countries is regressing. Health impacts are also felt nationally and locally in our cities, neighbourhoods and villages wherein entire groups of people do not have access to the basic resources with which to build up their own health and that of their children and grandchildren. Thirty years after the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion was adopted by participants who committed “to tackle the inequities in health produced by (societies’) rules and practices” and more than ever, equity should be a top priority for health promotion policy makers, practitioners, researchers and their partners. The 22nd IUHPE World Conference on Health Promotion will provide a timely opportunity to assess progress, share strategies, exchange research results and reflect on innovative practices and policies that promote health and equity, at all levels of governance.

Sub themes

In order to explore in detail how to promote health and equity, and emerging from the most innovative and current work in health promotion research, policy and practice, the following sub themes will structure the conference program:

1 – Ethical and cultural imperatives in interventions that promote health and equity

Research has shown that in matters of health and equity it is not true that one size fits all. This sub theme consists of three related aspects. First, to be effective and equitable all health promotion interventions have to be adapted to the historical, social, cultural and environmental conditions that form the context in which interventions are implemented. This need for local adaptation raises important issues about the use of research results to inform local interventions. Secondly, although conceived as an essential first step to achieve a basic level of human development, universal programs that propose the identical coverage for all independently of their social positions are increasingly scrutinized for their impact on equity. What are the benefits and draw backs associated with proposed and experimental alternative solutions such as: proportional universalism, conditional support and cash transfer, micro-credit organisations, and others. Thirdly, recent research has proposed that thinking about and implementing interventions at a community and population level raises ethical issues that differ from those relevant for clinical interventions. Is this really the case? If yes, what are those issues and how can they be addressed in practice? The Conference will explore those and other related questions.

2 – Urban change to make differences locally, paying attention to emerging voices

“Health is created locally where people live, work, play and love.” This is one of the fundamental propositions of the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion. Although we know that the forces that shape our societies and the way social hierarchies are structured operate well beyond the reach of individual actions, it is in people’s homes, neighbourhoods and working environments that the concrete impact of those forces are visible. They influence the quantity and quality of resources available daily for people to build their health. Mitigating the impact of those global trends by engaging locally with people, including those whose voice is less seldom heard, to improve their conditions has been one of the pillars for health promotion interventions. Also as a practice with long lasting impact on local environments, urban change can either exacerbate or alleviate the impact of the social determinants of health. The Conference will provide opportunities to assess progress and identify promising avenues for local and urban change interventions and also examine whether and how they contribute to promoting equity.

3 – Health in all policy and intersectoral action : innovations in theory, evaluation and research

It is now well established that most proximal risk factors for diseases and ill health are shaped by more distal social conditions that shape population distribution of those risk factors. Thus promoting health and equity means addressing those conditions that put people at “risk of risk” and that are largely controlled by actors outside the health sector; not only should health promoters reach out for other sectors to address those social determinants of health but it is increasingly estimated that health actors should devote resources and knowledge in the pursuit of projects that promote a more equitable distribution of power and resources in societies. The Conference will provide an opportunity for practitioners in health and other sectors to share experience and innovations in the development of intersectoral partnerships and health in all policies.

4 – Pathways to achieve sustainable and healthy human development on a global scale

A concept that applies to populations, ‘human development’ encompasses all aspects of human lives lived in society such as educational, economic, political, social, environmental and health achievements. In an increasingly globalised world, however, no single government can control all the levers that affect its constituents’ human development. A number of scholars and practitioners are proposing that some forms of global health governance are emerging out of various multilateral projects to promote human development and its determinants. The Conference will explore these interdependencies on a global scale and will provide fora to exchange and reflect on how to achieve sustainable and healthy human development globally.

5 – Creating shared research questions to bridging the research/practice gap

“Promoting Health and Equity” is essentially an action-oriented agenda. It can only be achieved by pursuing concrete changes in ways societies are organised and governed and in the conditions in which people live. Researching how such actions are planned and implemented and how results are produced and made sustainable and scalable are essential components not only for such actions to be reproducible but also to identify and avoid, if possible, unintended detrimental side effects. After all, really effective interventions are likely to produce effects that are broader than those intended and this is even more likely for complex interventions. Embracing the ideas underlying implementation science and population health intervention research, the Conference will provide fora to present and discuss research methods and results that provide evidence for practice and how these results are implemented in practice.

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