Global health centre
18 February 2015

Re-energising the public health community

The 14th World Congress on Public Health was held between 11-15 February of this year. The Congress, which had the theme of ‘Healthy People, Healthy Environment’, brought together public health professionals, academics, and practitioners from around the world, and was organized between the Indian Public Health Association and the World Federation of Public Health Associations (WFPHA). Delegates from over 70 countries participated in the Congress, which took place in Kolkata, a city with a rich history of public health interventions.

The WFPHA, whose Headquarter is based here in Geneva, is accredited with official relations with the WHO, has the goal of promoting effective health practices and policy, while also supporting the work of national public health associations worldwide.

The World Congress in Kolkata highlighted a number of challenges posed to human health. In response to these challenges those present in Kolkata made a clear declaration that change is required. The links between human health and social, economic, and environmental determinants were at the centre of the debates, discussions and future planning for the delegates of the Congress. Mainstreaming health policies, reinforcing a focus on health equity, and strengthening leadership and participation in public health, were themes that were consistently present.

In addition to providing a space for the established public health community to engage with these issues and challenges, the Congress held a two-day student conference. The student conference generated wide interest with international participation and provided a great platform for students to learn, interact, and prepare for future careers in the field of public health.

The Congress reaffirmed that it is clear that the public health community needs to mobilize, and assert its values in the face of both new and old challenges to human health. It is hoped that the Congress in Kolkata provided a space for reflection and re-energizing for the public health professionals in attendance. The Geneva Headquarters of the WFPHA will now seek to build on the momentum created in Kolkata to reach out to similar organisations in the field both internationally and in Geneva, to contribute to turning the declarations and intentions from Kolkata into effective responses to the global health problems we face.


Written by the World Federation of Public Health Associations (WFPHA), Geneva