International Foundation for Interdisciplinary health promotion (IFIHP)

IFIHP is a relatively new NPO that has been running since 2010. IFIHP was established to promote sustainable lifestyles by improving social conditions that shape health, with a focus on education and occupation. IFIHP undertakes education and training, research and development, consultancy and advocacy work, drawing on international influences.


IFIHP’s vision is to partner with organizations and individuals in order to promote healthy, sustainable lifestyles at individual and community levels, and to prevent disease and illness by addressing social conditions that shape health.

IFIHP’s flagship programme is the career GPS – Navigating to a better future! which aim is to empower youth to reach a fulfilling career that contributes to social justice and environmental sustainability for all. According to Carme Martínez-Roca, the Executive Director, these are careers that “make a contribution for a more equitable world” and allow people to “fulfill their fullest potential in a way that improves their communities”. The person is seen as someone “able to transform social and labour conditions”, through a process of concientisation and empowerment.

Target participants

IFIHP mainly works with youth and adults from low social and economic status who do not have basic education. IFIHP works with organisations, communities and individuals.

IFIHP’s work is mainly done in Gauteng, but also in Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Spain in collaboration with other organisations.

Focus areas

IFIHP has the following programmes:

  • Education and Training
  • Research and Development
  • Development Consultancy
  • Advocacy

IFIHP’s educational work focuses on:

  • A career development programme, career GPS – Navigating to a better future!, with youth and adults from low social and economic status who do not have basic education.
  • An adult basic education program, Women with Quality of Life, with women from low socio-economic status.
  • The Partnership for Education and research for Responsible Living, in collaboration with other organisations around the world, to develop educational materials that introduce sustainable development in formal and non-formal education programmes.


IFIHP has adopted an “IN7 Health Promotion Approach”. The contextual and holistic approach to health is mirrored in the organisation’s approach to education and learning. The approach to learning is described as:

“Integral-holistic, interdisciplinary, integrated in the context, inclusive-participatory, intercultural, interrelated with diverse stakeholders and international in its scope.”

The approach takes into consideration both an individual and structural perspective.

The social justice approach to career development requires a deep learning process that is more than a mental process. It challenges societal norms and nurtures particular values amongst learners that are believed to further social justice. Carme states: “It is both an individual and collective process, and it takes time until learners understand the collective approach, as career development is mainly understood as an individual process, but also because individualism, unfortunately, is very embedded in society”.

Carme further describes the approach as one which fosters participation, dialogue and agency. From the beginning of the education process, learners are encouraged to believe that they are the drivers of their own future.

Process and tools

The education process is a lengthy process, for example, the career programme can be a process of more than one year with a group of learners. The process often starts with a workshop, with the aim to gain an understanding of the social, educational and personal situations learners face and to build motivation and confidence amongst learners for a better future. The process also starts from the burning issues of the learners. Learners then sign up for individual coaching and mentoring sessions where an action plan is decided on as well as specific programmes to assist in overcoming structural barriers.

Understanding of popular education

IFIHP grounds its understanding of popular education in the work of Paulo Freire and in Grundtvig. Popular education is described as:

“A process of concientisation and empowerment aimed at social, economic and environmental equity. It is not an education only for the sake of the individual, even though it enables the individual to reach their fullest potential. Is not an education only for the sake of the structure … Popular education is education with a soul, and in this sense very different to other forms of education. It encompasses and includes all what we are and all what we can be, as individuals and society.”

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