Health promotion is a field of public health seeking to prevent and reduce health risks and increase public awareness of the field. The goal of these measures is to increase the capacity of individuals to control their own health, thereby improving their health status.
National health promotion measures are developed and implemented mainly by the Ministry of Social Affairs and the National Institute for Health Development, but thematic activities are also carried out at the regional, local, and organisational level. This means county governors, city and municipal governments as well as numerous related associations and non-government organisations also play an important role in health promotion.
Health promotion activities include:
- Provision of access to evidence-based health information and improvement of health education;
- prevention and reduction of injuries;
- prevention and reduction of drug use;
- promotion of balanced nutrition and physical activity;
- promotion of the mental health of the population;
- promotion of safe sexual behaviour;
- other health promotion activities.
Health promotion activities cover the following areas
Nutrition and healthy diet
To improve nutrition balance and increase participation in regular physical activity, the development of the Green Book of Nutrition and Physical Activity (EST) was initiated in 2014.
The goal of the Green Book of Nutrition and Physical Activity is inter-field cooperation in the establishment of activities that facilitate:
- The promotion of balanced nutrition and sufficient regular physical activity throughout the entire life;
- the reduction of health problems caused by unbalanced nutrition, insufficient physical activity, and excess body weight;
- the reduction of the occurrence of non-infectious diseases, thus increasing healthy life expectancy.
In spite of the positive health effects of physical activity, a significant part of the Estonian population do not reach the recommended daily level of physical activity. In order to increase participation in regular physical activity and promote more balanced nutrition, the development of the Green Book of Nutrition and Physical Activity (EST) was initiated in 2014.
The strategic document for Estonian alcohol policy is the Green Book of Alcohol Policy (PDF) (EST), which is based on the WHO Global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol (PDF). Each year, an inter-ministry working group presents a report on meeting the Green Book targets as a part of the National Health Development Plan annual report.
To meet the Green Book targets, the Government is seeking to increase the restrictions on both the advertisement and the availability of alcohol (EST).
Estonia limits alcohol consumption and damage caused thereby through:
- The steady increase of excise duties (alcohol excise duties have been increasing steadily since 2008; since 2012, they have been increased annually);
- restricted availability of alcohol in night time (retail sale of alcoholic beverages is prohibited between 22 p.m. and 10 a.m.);
- the prohibition of alcohol consumption by and selling alcohol to minors;
- restrictions to the contents and visibility of alcohol advertising;
- intervention programmes preventing alcohol use by youths and informational campaigns targeting the general population.
Tobacco products and other products with similar use
In 2005, Estonia joined the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the basis of international tobacco control policy. Through the implementation of the Convention, the Government seeks to ensure the protection of public health at the highest attainable level. The Ministry of Social Affairs has developed a national tobacco control strategy, the measures foreseen by which are discussed in the Green Book of Tobacco Policy, adopted by the Government of the Republic in 2014. By 2025, the Government seeks to reduce the number of daily smokers by 30%, i.e. to 18% of the adult population, and the number of smokers to 24% of the population. According to 2014 data, 22.1% of the Estonian adult population are daily smokers.
More information on European Commission's tobacco policies and tobacco products, e-cigarettes and refill containers.
Until the end of 2012, the basic document for drug policy used by the Ministry of Social Affairs was the National Strategy for the Prevention of Drug Addiction (PDF) (EST). Starting from 2013, activities related to the prevention of drug addiction are described in the National Health Development Plan 2009–2020 (PDF). The most important target groups are the general population (including children, youths, parents) and different vulnerable groups (children and youths at risk, people using injected drugs).
Good sexual health presumes a positive and respectful attitude towards sexuality and sexual relations. One of the prerequisite for the development of reproductive and sexual health is sexual health education. Developments in Sexual and Reproductive Health 2013–2017.
Preventive activities play an important part in increasing the awareness and improving the skills of the population and various specialists (e.g. school personnel, health professionals, rescue workers, etc.). A safe living environment is also necessary for keeping the risk of injury as low as possible. In addition to the prevention of injuries, it is also important to focus on reducing their severity – this requires improving the first-aid skills of the population and ensuring fast medical assistance.
Supporting and promoting the mental health of the population, ensuring the services required for the prevention and early identification of problems and timely intervention enables increasing the quality of life and well-being of the population.