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University of Alabama Becomes US First Health Promoting University

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The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is the first university in the country to become an internationally recognized Health Promoting University (HPU).

HPUs advance the Okanagan Charter, an international charter that calls on colleges and universities to embed health education into their curriculum, advancing health instruction in post-secondary schools across the globe.

Watts believes the charter aligns perfectly with UAB’s principles, adding it will “raise the university’s visibility internationally, nationally and statewide for our work in health and health promotion.”

Improving Health and Wellbeing

HPUs follow their own strategy regarding how faculty, students, and staff will implement health promotion in the campus and community.

Watts explained that UAB has always focused on improving health and well-being. Last month the university hospital received the 2021 “America’s Best Hospitals” award for outstanding achievement in clinical excellence and patient experience and satisfaction.

The university has already begun a variety of initiatives in line with the charter, including the Center for Exercise Medicine, Birmingham Health District and Tobacco-Free Campus, and UAB Cares Suicide Prevention and Intervention Initiative.

UAB also already addresses the Okanagan Charter’s common health issues, such as eating habits, physical activity and exercise, prevention of alcohol and drug abuse, and mental health.

Chair of the International Health Promoting Universities and Colleges Steering Group and co-chair of the UK Healthy Universities Network, Mark Dooris, said he looked forward to working with UAB and the emerging American HPU network “to strengthen the global movement and mobilize action for change.”

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