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Promot Educ. 2007;14(4):238-43.

South Asia's health promotion kaleidoscope.

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Voluntary Health Association of India, New Delhi.


South Asia has 22 percent of the world's population but only 1.3 percent of the global income. Consequently 40 percent of the population is living in absolute poverty. However the health transition in some of its countries including India and Sri Lanka is a testimony to the fact that there are proven solutions to the problems of health and development within the region. The countries of the region have much in common, including a democratic political system, four major religions, a vibrant and living tradition of voluntarism and an extensive health infrastructure which is operating well below par. Despite the underlying unity, South Asia enjoys enormous cultural, linguistic and ethnic diversity. In this large, complex and vibrant region, health promotion is a challenging task, but it also holds the key to a dramatic change in the global health situation. Many of these solutions lie in wider areas of socio-political action. There are much needed shifts in the health promotion and development efforts, particularly in the area of poverty and social justice; gender inequity; population stabilisation; health and environment; control of communicable and non-communicable diseases; and urban health strategies. The principle of cooperation, partnership and intersectoral collaboration for health will be explored. Developing an appropriate, sustainable and people centred health and development strategy in the coming decades is an enormous challenge. There has been an attempt to focus on the emerging needs of the region, which call for health promotion, and involvement of civil society, private sector and the governments bestowed with the increased responsibility of ensuring health security for people. Strengthening the existing health systems, allocating adequate resources for health development and ensuring community participation are all prerequisites to the success of health promotion in the region.

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