For a country to ensure the well-being of its people, it requires a whole-of-society approach. According to the World Health Organization’s Geneva Charter for Well-Being, this involves actions across all levels, stakeholders and sectors. Similarly, Bhutan is working towards enhancing health and well-being whereby the health ministry will initiate “health in all policies” strategy. The strategy will ensure that all other policies will be formulated considering the well-being of the people.
‘Health in all policies’, is an approach where impacts on health are considered in all decision-making and across all sectors and policies.
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the approach considers potential health outcomes when making policy decisions about transportation, education, housing and other areas that affect communities.
“More importantly, people should be aware that health needs to be considered when designing a system or policy. This is because at the end of the day, who are we designing the policy for? We are designing the policy for people, we are designing policies so that the people are healthy. If people are healthy, people are economically productive so there are lots of incentives to consider health in all policies,” said Dechen Wangmo, Health Minister.
The minister said while some policies in the country have been developed considering the health and well-being of people, there is more to do. With the country undergoing a major transformation across all sectors, the ministry is optimistic that it will incorporate health and well-being more policies.
“With transformation, along with the transformation, mandates have been cleared. We had a huge governance transformation whereby now responsibility and, mandates have all been clarified. Now I think it’s a very fertile ground to work with agencies to embed in all policies.”
The health in all policies strategy will enable the government and organizations to work towards creating healthier environments, reducing health inequalities and ultimately improving the well-being of individuals and communities.