chapter  4
12 Pages

Health Promotion: a Eurocentric Phenomenon

As we have seen, health promotion can only make sense as a ‘global’ phenomenon. It would be no use for Canada, say, to have a ‘national’ health promotion policy which did not take account of environmental factors imposed on it by, say, Mexican or American activities that affect atmospheric pollution in Canada. While this sort of thing is readily enough acknowledged, the difficulties attendant upon circumventing it have not attracted a great deal of analysis. The fact of the matter is that what we, in the industrialised, ‘European’ cultures, refer to as ‘health promotion’ is by no means a culture-free entity. It is solidly based, for instance, on the concept of ‘individual autonomy’ and that is by no means a universal outlook on the condition of humankind. In fact, as with a great many of our cultural values, we can easily trace the concern with the ‘individual’ in history, society and politics, to the ancient Greeks. It is a phenomenon which does not apply with the same force in non-European cultures.