Improving population health and wellbeing is the fundamental goal of the Andalusian Comprehensive Strategy for Healthy Living. With the drafting process currently underway, the voices of citizens and professionals from different sectors, the business world, and from the different fields involved (health, education, equality and social policies, employment, agriculture, livestock, fisheries, development, etc.) have been embedded in its creation – using a qualitative virtual methodology ad hoc adapted to the reality and context of the region to do this.
Pablo García-Cubillana, Coordinator of the Andalusian Plan for Healthy Living at the Regional Ministry of Health and Families, Amelia Martín, Professor at the Andalusian School of Public Health, and Dolores Fernández, Head of Health Promotion and Local Action Service at the Regional Ministry of Health and Families discuss the effects of implementing the Strategy.
Why design and implement a Comprehensive Strategy for Healthy Living?
According to the World Health Organization, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) kill 41 million people each year, equivalent to 71% of all deaths globally.
The United Nations 2030 Agenda recognises NCDs as a major challenge for sustainable development.
Many of the risk factors of NCDs are avoidable.
Health promotion and prevention strategies can prevent and reverse these conditions.
Promoting healthy lifestyles leads to health benefits, and at a much lower cost than medical treatment for any of the associated risk factors and diseases.
Innovative health promotion strategies, focused on holistic and integrated approaches, can contribute to a healthier, sustainable, and fairer world.
Principles and key elements
In recent years, the Andalucía region has seen multiple actions and programmes being developed to address healthy diets and physical activity, both with healthcare-focused and more intersectional approaches.
In 2019, the Regional Ministry of Health and Families took a firm step in its commitment to improve the welfare of the population and submitted the elaboration of a new Comprehensive Strategy for Healthy Living, in line with the goals of the 4th Andalusian Health Plan to the Government Council of Andalusia .
The values of this Strategy build upon a positive and comprehensive view of health throughout the life-course. It focuses on promoting healthy lifestyles and behaviours, preferably related to healthy diet, physical activity, healthy sleep, emotional wellbeing, responsible sexual activity and the positive use of information and communication technologies (ICTs): six elements that generate health throughout the life-course.
The approach’s key principles to promote healthy lifestyles are described in the above figure.
Process of participation and elaboration
The preparation and drafting of the content of the Comprehensive Strategy for Healthy Living has been underway since 2019. Its development was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It was from May 2021 that the participatory methodology was deployed, involving more than 300 individuals, within the framework of a governance structure defined under the criteria of co-creation and transparency.
The participatory process, led by the Andalusian Regional Ministry of Health and Families with the support of the Andalusian School of Public Health, sought to achieve the highest possible representativeness. A virtual methodology was designed, using qualitative data-collection techniques (online open-ended questionnaires and virtual discussion and consensus sessions) built on an intersectoral approach and with a focus on the local and provincial level.
Several working groups that included professionals from the different fields of public administrations, citizens, interest groups, and economic and social stakeholders actively participated in various online sessions conducted at the provincial level. These groups prepared a strategic diagnosis, identified problems, needs and challenges, and proposed actions for improvement.
Likewise, the collaboration between professional associations and scientific societies is planned and envisaged for an evidence-based validation of the Strategy, to be taking place in this year. At present, the results of the participatory process are being included in the draft strategy, which will subsequently be submitted for consultation with economic and social stakeholders and for public information.