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Edited by C David Jenkins. Pan American Health Organisation of the World Health Organisation, 2003, pp 378. ISBN 92-75-11590-7
An understanding of health promotion is an essential foundation for all health professionals. Building better health focuses on the themes of disease/illness prevention via health promotion and integrates theory with practice. The book is divided into five parts; laying the foundation, improving health throughout the lifecycle, better understanding the leading forms of death and disability, intervening more effectively, and the epilogue. The initial chapters concentrate on the imperative for health promotion setting out the economic and moral standpoint. In particular emphasis is placed on the importance of engaging the community in improving health. The multiplicities of factors that impact on health are discussed. From this point the book examines health issues across the lifecycle from pre-natal care to old age. Throughout these sections practical examples are provided that could be applied in many settings. Chapters related to effective interventions provide a useful background to the theory of behaviour change. The array of references could be further used to explore this complex area. The importance of working with communities to achieve change is a central tenant of the book with the proposal that “convenience, convenience, convenience” should be the mantra to aid community participation. The final part of the book provides an interesting discussion of the dilemma of prevention compared with treatment.
The book will appeal to a wide audience with an interest in health and health promotion. The format enables the reader to focus on a particular section if so desired, but is also sufficiently user friendly to enable it to be read from cover to cover. The book is global in appeal as the examples used are from across the world in preference to many that concentrate solely on health impacts in the western world.