Empowerment In Public Health

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1. Empowerment as a concept aims to decrease the number of people without power (1). Empowerment allows people without power to gain more power and take control over their lives and health (2). The term is more broadly defined as ”the ability of people to gain understanding and control over personal, social, economic and political forces in order to take action to improve their life situations” (1, p156) . Furthermore, empowerment can be seen as the process of reaching an aim of an activity or as the actual goal of an activity. Empowerment as a goal can be explained as one being able to gain control over one’s health and life. Defining empowerment as a process is based on the belief that one cannot teach an individual directly, one can only…show more content…
The era was influenced by political liberalism that involved mobilization of middle class groups who came to pressure the government for equity and social justice. The first half of the 20th century was influenced by the bio-medical approach and it was in the 1960-1970s that empowerment was established within Public Health again. The reasoning for a change in the discourse was the increase of chronic degenerative diseases related to poor lifestyles. The Alma Ata Charter in 1978 did not mention empowerment, however giving lay people more power through community involvement was one of the key-points. The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion in 1986 emphasized on empowerment and community participation and empowerment has been a key aspect in health promotion since then…show more content…
Health literacy (HL) is according to the World Health Organization (WHO) defined as the “The cognitive and social skills which determine the motivation and ability of individuals to gain access to, understand and use information in ways which promote and maintain good health” (12, p264). The lowest level of HL is the functional HL, which refers to being able to understand basic information. Interactive HL includes progressive literature and cognitive skills, which together with social skills develop one’s capacity for interactive communication. Critical HL, the highest level, allows one to critically analyse and apply information and gain control of one’s life. The higher level of HL, the more empowered the individual or group become (13). The concept can be used in SH by seeing HL as a risk factor or as an asset. I would use the asset approach, which is more strongly related to health promotion and empowerment. The HL is the outcome of the asset approach rather than the pre-requisite. The asset approach takes into account the HL of the group in the beginning of the program as well as providing tailored education but after that the focus becomes on developing personal knowledge and capabilities as well as social and communication skills of the clients (14). I would therefore in cooperation with the community introduce practical nutrition lessons and physical activity classes for the community depending on the already existing knowledge within the community and interests.

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