In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Health Promotion Foundations

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • The Need of Infrastructure
  • Steps in Setting Up Health promotion foundations/Mentoring health promotion foundations
  • Lessons Learned
  • Case Studies
  • International Partners and Network

Public Health Health Promotion Foundations
May Myat Cho
  • LAST REVIEWED: 05 October 2022
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 April 2018
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0179


With the emerging global health priorities in the early 21st century, health promotion increasingly has become a more important issue. Great things come with great responsibility. Globalization has created many opportunities for development and interaction, but it also has brought a change in lifestyle and behaviors that encourage an unhealthy lifestyle. Health is not only a matter of the health sector; it also requires more collaboration from other sectors within government and outside government as well as private sectors. The traditional health-care model is very important, and innovative ways are needed to handle emerging and complex health outcome. Risk factors for non-communicable diseases can only be controlled effectively and efficiently through multisectoral collaboration and stakeholder engagement. In order to accomplish that, an effective and efficient infrastructure is essential in health promotion. Health promotion foundations (HPFs) are one of the models for health promotion infrastructure. Three types of foundations, administrations, boards, or funds depend on the governance structure—autonomous, semi-autonomous, and a unit within a government infrastructure. A complete review of the advantages and disadvantages for each type of foundation is recommended. Independent or autonomous foundations are highly recommended because accountability and transparency are achieved in each independent foundation. Detailed information on sources for funding, types of legal documents used, and the type of governance in a country are described in this article. Sustainability is also the major emphasis for health promotion foundations because of the nature of the work that a foundation plans to do. Detailed information on health promotion foundations, including different sources of funding, a step-by-step approach on establishing a foundation, role or functions of a health promotion foundation, lessons learned, and case studies is also provided. It also highlights the need of local, regional, and international support in successful implementation.

General Overviews

In order to understand the nature of health promotion foundations, researchers should explore the difference between health promotion that focuses mainly on the community or population level and the curative or health services that focus more on the individual level (Mouy and Barr 2006; Evans, et al. 1994). It is also important to highlight the significance of leadership and sustainability for health promotion programs (World Health Organization 2005). Although not focusing directly on health promotion foundations, Davies 2013 discusses the overall paradigm shift and the multidisciplinary nature of health promotion. Coe and De Beyer 2014 discusses the importance of prevention and health promotion in the context of universal health coverage and the reasons health promotion is not a priority in many countries. One of the proposed ideas for establishing the Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth) is to reduce expenditure for universal health coverage (Supawongse 2007). In the Philippines, the sin tax was allocated for the use of universal health coverage (Kaiser, et al. 2016); however, advocates in the Philippines are currently trying to propose a health promotion bill following the Thai experience. The Health Promotion Foundation concept was initiated in the 1980s, and the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) was the pioneer (Victorian Health Promotion Foundation 2006). The reason VicHealth was established is still relevant to global health problems in the early 21st century, which are no longer limited to rich countries. The success of VicHealth has been followed by many other countries around the world. Countries often have their own particular situational context even if they are located in the same region. Health Promotion Foundation 1991 discusses the reasons the Polish Health Promotion Foundation was established. Evidence has shown that health promotion foundations are suitable and can be implemented in low- and middle-income countries as well as wealthy countries. Perez, et al. 2013 provides examples of low- and middle-income countries with health promotion foundations. Different types of health promotion infrastructure are implemented depending on the need of the country. The three main models of health promotion infrastructure are described clearly in Vathesatogkit, et al. 2013.

  • Coe, G., and J. De Beyer. 2014. The imperative for health promotion in universal health coverage. Global Health: Science and Practice 2.1: 10–22.

    The article showcases the need for new skills and expertise for health promotion in the context of universal health coverage. It also emphasizes the importance of health promotion.

  • Davies, J. K. November 2013. Health promotion: A unique discipline?. In Health promotion forum of New Zealand. HPF Occasional Paper. Newmarket, New Zealand: Health Promotion Forum.

    The paper presents the history and concept of health promotion from different perspectives. It explains the basics of health promotion and will be useful for scholars seeking a better understanding of why health promotion foundations are needed due to the nature of health promotion, such as a stronger emphasis on autonomy, participation, and empowerment (elaborated on pp. 7–10).

  • Evans, R., M. Barer, and T. Marmor. 1994. Why are some people healthy and others not? The determinants of health of populations. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.

    This book explains the concept of population health and the way in which it has an impact on health care. The authors also explain health in a broader perspective of different social determinants and the way in which policy decisions can have an impact on health. They also differentiate traditional health care from population health, which was quite new during the 1990s.

  • Health Promotion Foundation. 1991. FUNDACJA. Warsaw, Poland: Health Promotion Foundation.

    This fact sheet, prepared by the Health Promotion Foundation (FUNDACJA) in Warsaw, briefly describes why the foundation is established, including the objectives and the function of the foundation.

  • Kaiser, K., C. Bredenkamp, and R. Iglesias. 2016. Sin tax reform in the Philippines: Transforming public finance, health, and governance for more inclusive development. Washington, DC: World Bank.

    This book provides the detailed process of sin tax reform in the Philippines and an evaluation of the implementation. It also provides the background information on the current tobacco tax reform in the East Asia and the Pacific region and acknowledges that earmarked taxes are used for health promotion in other countries.

  • Mouy, B., and A. Barr. 2006. The social determinants of health: Is there a role for health promotion foundations? Health Promotion Journal of Australia 17.3: 189–195.

    DOI: 10.1071/HE06189

    This article analyzes health promotion from the perspective of structural determinants of health. It illustrates the bigger picture of health through social, cultural, political, and economic perspectives. The change in paradigm is demonstrated clearly in this article.

  • Perez, A., O. Ayo-Yusuf, K. Hofman, et al. 2013. Establishing a health promotion and development foundation in South Africa. South African Medical Journal 103.3: 147–149.

    DOI: 10.7196/SAMJ.6281

    This article explains why South Africa needs a health promotion and development foundation as a middle-income country bearing the double burden of infectious and non-communicable diseases. This article also mentions the existing models of health promotion foundations around the world.

  • Supawongse, C. 2007. Two decades of tobacco-consumption control in Thailand: Success and challenges. Translated by Atchara Shayakul. Bangkok: Mahidol Univ.

    This book explains the tough journey of tobacco control in Thailand in the 1990s and how the Thai Health Promotion Foundation was created. It is one of the most resourceful books for those interested in the journey of ThaiHealth. One of the important messages that the tobacco control advocates were utilizing during the advocacy of surcharge tax for health promotion was to reduce the expenses of universal health insurance.

  • Vathesatogkit, P., T. Y. Lian, and B. Ritthiphakdee. 2013. Health promotion fund: Sustainable financing and governance. Bangkok: Thai Health Promotion Foundation.

    This resource provides an overview of health promotion foundations with various sources of funding. However, it needs to be updated because of changes since 2013. Because very few books provide an overview of health promotion foundations, this is a valuable resource and is published by the Thai Health Promotion Foundation in collaboration with the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance and the International Network for Health Promotion Foundation.

  • Victorian Health Promotion Foundation. 2006. Factsheet 1: VicHealth funding model. Carlton, Australia: VicHealth.

    This overview of the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation provides a good explanation of its source of funding. In addition, it briefly explains how tobacco taxes are levied in Victoria.

  • World Health Organization 2005. Global health promotion scaling up for 2015: A brief review of major impacts and developments over the past 20 years and challenges for 2015. WHO Secretariat Background Document for the 6th Global Conference on Health Promotion in Bangkok, Thailand, 7–11 August 2005.

    This paper is the unedited version of a working paper prepared as the background document for the World Health Organization 6th Global Conference on Health Promotion in Bangkok. The paper discusses the lessons learned from since the 1980s and the way forward in the 21st century. It emphasizes that stewardship and sustainability are important for health (p. 15). These two factors are also important criteria for health promotion foundations.

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