Defining healthy public policy can be problematic because of variation in the use of the term and inherent conceptual ambiguity (Pederson et al. 1988). Though a relatively new term, it is a direct descendant of the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ public health movements, and intimately linked to the development of World Health Organization programmes. The conceptual grounding for healthy public policy came from the WHO Assembly’s resolution that health be the main social goal of government, including Health For All by the Year 2000. Subsequent conferences and concept statements have given substance to healthy public policy, as did the WHO conference on healthy public policy held in Adelaide (WHO 1988b) which produced the following definition:
Healthy Public Policy is characterized by an explicit concern for health and equity in all areas of policy and by an accountability for health impact.