It is widely believed that health promotion is a cornerstone of primary health care, and that it is at the same time an essential role of public health.

The first international conference on health promotion was held in 1986 in Ottawa, Canada. It was then that the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion was adopted, which emphasized the importance of health promotion worldwide. 

In that historical document, health promotion is defined as a process that enables people to increase control over their health and to improve it. Health is seen as a resource of everyday life, not the objective of living. Health promotion is considered an obligation not only of the health sector, but of the society as a whole. To achieve the goals of health promotion, it is necessary to build a healthy public policy, create supportive environments, strengthen community actions, develop personal skills and reorient the health service.

After Ottawa, eight more World Health Organization conferences dedicated to health promotion followed. The last in a series of conferences was held in Shanghai in 2016, the outcome of which was the Shanghai Declaration on promoting health in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

It states that human health can no longer be separated from the health of the planet, and that economic growth alone does not guarantee the improvement of the health of the population. Existing health inequalities were assessed as unacceptable, requiring political and global action. Good governance, local action through cities and communities, and empowering people by promoting health literacy are defined as priorities. It was decided that priority will be placed on innovations to support people’s enjoyment of a healthy life, as well as on the health of the most vulnerable. Political leaders, the private sector and civil society are expected to commit more, get involved and financially invest more in health promotion.

Given that nurses represent the largest group of health workers, their role in health care programs aimed at health promotion, disease prevention, and community work is very important. Precisely because of that, a significant part of the education of community nurses organized by the Strengthening Nursing in BIH Project is dedicated to this topic, as well as to the preparation and implementation of health promotion activities in the local communities.