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Public policy development processes? What role can public health actors play? Patrick Fafard's workshop for the NCCHPP on public policy development processes, presented during the 2009 Summer Institute.

Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion. World Health Organization, 1986. On the site of the World Health Organization.

Health promotion, advocacy and health inequalities: a conceptual framework. Carlisle, S. (2000). Health Promotion International, 15, 369-376. Abstract available on the Oxford Journals site.

Advocacy for Healthy Public Policy as a Health Promotion Technology.  MS Word 327 K.  McCubbin, M., Labonté, R., and Dallaire, B. (2001) University of Toronto, Centre for Health Promotion. Available on the site of the Centre for Health Promotion.

Reflections on a 38-year career in public health advocacy: 10 pieces of advice to early career researchers and advocates. Chapman, S. (March 2015) Volume 25, Issue 2. On the site of the Public Health Research & Practice.

Florence Morestin


The activity of advocacy is an integral part of the public health field. The Ottawa Charter of 1986 identifies the imperative to “advocate for health” as one of the pillars of health promotion. It is clearly necessary to define what advocacy is in the institutional context of public health.

In public health, advocacy activities target two objects: cases and causes. (Carlisle, 2000) On the one hand, advocacy helps to inform decision-makers about public health problems. Understood in this sense, this is what Carlisle identifies as ‘causes'.

The provincial and territorial public health laws give important powers and responsibilities to public health practitioners. Among other things, they demand that practitioners assume the role of a collective sentinel of the population's health.

Image of "press for action" button © Rudi Tapper      It is therefore up to the public health practitioner to alert authorities as to the unforeseen consequences of policies, both those within the health sector but above all those policies from other sectors. Recent public health regulations or new provincial public health laws highlight the importance for public health to identify problems and to attract attention to their consequences.

More recently, the Health in All Policies movement is seen to echo the importance of considering health in all public policies and not just those issuing from the health sector.

On the other side of advocacy, one of the roles of public health is to act so as to reduce the effects of public health problems within the population.

This second sense of public health advocacy is what Carlisle calls the ‘case'.

This points to the role of public health in voicing the needs of populations who do not have a collective voice: marginalized populations, vulnerable groups and, in general, groups who do not have a say. 

Carlisle, S. (2000). Health promotion, advocacy and health inequalities: A conceptual framework. Health Promotion International, 15, 369-376.

Advocacy for Healthy Public Policy as a Health Promotion Technology. MS Word 327 K. McCubbin, M., Labonté, R., and Dallaire, B. (2001) University of Toronto, Centre for Health Promotion. Available on the site of the Centre for Health Promotion.

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© Rudi Tapper 
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