An Introduction to the Concept of Health
Health, according to the World Health Organization, defines it as “the condition of living comfortably with healthy habits, a capacity to enjoy a reasonable quality of life and protection from the risk of death or disease.” A wide variety of definitions have also been applied to the concept of health. Practitioners consider that to be healthy, one must be psychologically, physically and socially sound. People in any country can be considered to be healthy if they meet certain criteria.
In the United States, the prevailing definition of health is determined by the Public Health Service, which defines it as “exceeding the minimum standards of health established by such State in relation to age, sex, economic position and value of healthy behaviors.” The basic idea behind the Public Health Service’s definition of health is to provide communities with an important service in preventing the transmission of diseases and assisting those who suffer from such conditions to meet their needs. This service is provided through the various public health programs that are conducted by the departments of the state. These programs have become major sources of revenue for the state.
According to American Heritage Dictionary, the definition of health as it relates to the mentality of a person can be described as “the feeling good” factor. It was defined as “the habit of feeling good about one’s self, one’s life, and one’s environment.” American Heritage Dictionary defines health as “the quality of being fit, strong, and healthy; having harmony, and a proper balance of mind, body, and spirit.” In The National Association for Homeborne Healthcare, the essential elements that define health are: ability to thrive, self-acceptance, education, acceptance of others, compassion, effective communication, realistic evaluation and clear goals and methods for achieving them. The National Association for Homeborne Healthcare and the Touch Research Institute define health as “an important component of everyday life”.
Social determinants of health are also important in the prevention and treatment of health problems. These determinants include physical environment, social setting, cultural norms, work and family relationships, and financial resources. It is important to note that these determinants cannot be taken alone and as they pertain to health care, they are interdependent and interconnected.
A clear link is drawn between health and value. In this reference value framework, a person’s capacity to satisfy standards of personal worth is measured against four components namely, the extent to which the individual can meet specific required performance, the extent to which they can contribute to the community, the extent to which they can support themselves and their families, and the extent to which they can cope in an unknown or unfamiliar situation. Health is not just a matter of good health. It is also equally important to keep in mind that we live in a world where appearances – good or bad, clean or dirty, traditional or modern, tidy or messy clean cut or scruffy – become the main defining feature of an individual. Looking good becomes almost an imperative.
The concept of health has become closely linked to notions of value. A state of complete health, as understood by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Development (UPID), is one in which “all the diseases, disorders and conditions that can disrupt normal body functioning are totally absent”. Health has become equivalent to the absence of disease in today’s environment. This definition of health care emphasizes not only the prevention of disease but also the contribution of prevention to well-being. Prevention is not only about keeping a check on food and water intake; it is also about keeping the body in good shape so that it can resist or defeat disease. It is about a state of total well-being.