Health Promotion Foundations help manage major health challenges

Health Promotion Foundations help manage the major health challenges of the 21st century including industrial epidemics related to usage of tobacco, alcohol, ultra processed foods and drinks as well as road trauma, says Dr Rob Moodie, a professor of Public Health at the Melbourne School of Population Health.

Moodie, the inaugural chair of Global Health at the Nossal Institute, University of Melbourne and former CEO of the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, was speaking at a seminar at the Wits School of Public Health in Park Town, on Monday, September 9, 2013.

“Health Promotion Foundations are there to mobilize civil society and support community action for health by providing resources, training and technical assistance,” Moodie said.

Using Australia as an example, Moodie said that Health Promotion Foundations should focus on forcing change in sponsorships to encourage a move away from sports being funded by alcohol and fast food companies. This was not easy, he acknowledged, citing examples from Australia: “There was a lot of unease, but it was done.”

He explained that Health Promotion Foundations built capacity for promoting health in different paths of society, including capacity such as health advocates, health economists and health lawyers, and management capacity that is able to drive and influence intersectoral action.

Professor Moodie said that putting money towards prevention was vital as this could cost up to 500 times less than prevention in some instances. He noted that governments often forget about prevention because no one is banging on their door saying “I am ill today because you did not teach me about prevention 20 years ago.” Health Promotion Foundations advocate for health promoting policies, which includes providing the research to support policy change that improves health such as restricting the kind of food that can be sold in school tuck shops or motivating for parks or cycling lanes to be built when new housing area are being developed. This means they have a clearly differentiated role from the Department of Health and in particular and government more generally.

Moodie stressed that these foundations should work “with government but not for government”. He also shared various funding models for these foundations around the world including a surcharge on alcohol and tobacco in Thailand or appropriations from Treasury budgets as is the case in Malaysia and Tonga.

Moodie has over 30 years experience planning and evaluating health programmes in Australia, Africa, Asia and the Pacific. He has co-edited and co-authored four books with his most recent being “Recipes for a good life” with Gabriel Gates.

By Unathi Jobela

Prof Rob Moodie was in the country at the invitation of the Health Promotion and Development Foundation Network.

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