Public health advocacy consists of the strategic actions used to influence others in order to change opinions, initiate positive change and address the underlying factors that contribute to a healthier community, be it at the individual (e.g. personal behaviours affecting health) or population level, including for policy and legislation. It often involves building partnerships and solidarity with other organisations to achieve common goals.
Components of public health advocacy include:
Leadership and ethics:
- Providing leadership at international, national and local levels.
- Vision and direction setting.
- Strategic communication.
- Identifying risks and priorities.
- Influencing partners and planners.
- Management and leadership skills.
- Mobilising change.
- Professional and ethical values.
Community engagement and empowerment:
- Empowerment of professionals, organisations and communities.
- Community engagement and development, including civic engagement and volunteerism.
- Building partnerships and networks to promote collaborative working with other sectors and mobilising partners to influence the wider determinants of health.
- Enhancing social inclusion of minority groups/those experiencing discrimination.
- Building social resilience, community assets and social capital that enhance community trust and reciprocity.
- Orientating services around the multiple needs of communities.
- Internal and external plans, including focusing on purpose and message, audience, medium and method.
- Monitoring uptake and outcomes.
- Public health functions support wider economic, social and environmental outcomes as well as providing health benefits (e.g. promoting safer roads, increasing active transport, making urban spaces greener, promoting healthy eating, promoting smoke-free cook-stoves).
- Sustainability measures in health settings include reducing waste, local procurement and energy efficiency and are often cost-saving.