The Congress profiled the breadth and depth of the huge challenges confronting planetary and public health, as well as the enormous expertise, experience, energy and knowledge of those in the field.
With discussions being both alarming and inspirational, some clear themes emerged for future directions.
These include the need to develop the capacity, influence and power of those working for public health, including allies in civil society and other sectors.
Discussions also profiled the need for courage and innovation in using the full gamut of strategies and platforms available, from the law to international treaties, policy, civic engagement, the mobilisation of new alliances and collaborations, and technological and social innovation.
A critical challenge going forward is to develop more effective mechanisms for centring health in all government policies and activities.
Discussions also highlighted the importance of public health research, education, training and workforce development being more responsive to rapid technological, environmental, social and political changes.
Focus on Sustainable Development Goals
Professor Heather Yeatman, one of the Congress organisers and President of the Public Health Association of Australia, said the Congress had highlighted the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals.
“We need to think of how health is impacted by those goals and how we can position health in those goals,” she said when presenting “Congress reflections” on the final day.
The Congress had also underscored the need to focus on environmental and ecosystem protection, as well as upon equity, she said.
“We also need to be better at promoting new measures of human prosperity that promote wellbeing,” she said.
Mr Michael Moore also called upon Congress participants to join and support public health and civil society organisations.
The next Congress on World Public Health will be held in Rome in 2020.
Many speakers stressed the need for urgent action before then.
Congress participants passed two Demands for Action on World Health Day, the final day of the Congress: that world leaders make the public’s health a priority; and calling for action on weapons of mass destruction.