It would not be easy to provide the exact definition of health. I strongly believe that there is no universally agreed definition of heath. Many people would define health as being an absence of diseases. In addition to that right definition which seems incomplete, it would be important to take into consideration economic, social and psychological factors to make the definition more complete. Many years ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) has adopted the following definition of health: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” The World Health Organization said that: “The definition has not been amended since 1948.” Nevertheless, other sources have provided more detail explanations when giving the definition of health. For instance, the Croatian medical journal said: “Today, three types of definition of health seem to be possible and are used. The first is that health is the absence of any disease or impairment. The second is that health is a state that allows the individual to adequately cope with all demands of daily life (implying also the absence of disease and impairment. The third definition states that health is a state of balance, an equilibrium that an individual has established within himself and between himself and his social and physical environment.” The above definition is an example of detail explanations of the definition of health provided by the World Health Organization.
I believe that the definition of health given by WHO is applicable today; because it considers the principal factors describing health in its entire concept such Diseases and conditions; well-being and environment. Based on that definition, I would say that being physically fit when mentally unbalanced or socially isolated does not add up to health. Instead, health must take into considerations the described factors above. Now, when I turn to the lecture, module 2; Anonymous (2014): I found another clear explanation of the definition of health described as follow: “Therefore, with a working definition such as this, we can understand that health care encompasses not only acute and chronic physical needs, but such aspect as mental health, social work, environmental health, and many other areas as well.” Among those definitions of health, I am convinced that well-being (one of the factors define health), widely influence on health care policy. Before describing how well-being influences on health care policy, let’s start by defining what well-being is. According to the CDC; “There is no consensus around a single definition of well-being, but there is general agreement that at minimum, well-being includes the presence of positive emotions and moods, the absence of negative emotions. In simple terms, well-being can be described as judging life positively and feeling good.”
About well-being, let’s take an example of air pollution. Air pollution is one of the public factors which negatively influence the quality of life or well-being; therefore, it threats the public health. Many organizations are involved in the protection of our environment against pollution. Since people are continuously speaking out against pollution, governments are too involved in fighting against pollution. Pollution does not concern only the outdoor pollution, but it involves indoor pollutions as well.
To improve the quality of life of the population in the United States, the federal government has increased environmental controls involving outdoor and indoor pollutions. Hence, years ago, the U.S government has established the Clean Air Act. Concerning this act, EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) described it in that terms: “The Clean Air Act (CAA) is the comprehensive federal law that regulates air emissions from stationary and mobiles sources. Among other things, this law authorizes EPA to establish National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) to protect health and public welfare and to regulate emissions of hazardous air pollutants.”
Air pollution is a big concern of different governments around the world; because it is a real issue of public health in modern countries. I know that pollution by car, smoking, dust from factories is one of the aggravating factors of cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases in developed countries. All of those explanations confirm that the factor well-being could definitely influence on health care policy.
Academia gave the following definition to ‘Public health’: “The definition given by Winslow in 1920 has been widely accepted: ‘Public health is the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting physical health and efficacy through organized community efforts for the sanitation of the environment, the control of communicable infections, the education of the individual in person hygiene, the organization of medical and nursing services for the early diagnosis and preventive treatment of disease, and the development of social machinery which will ensure every individual in the community a standard of living adequate for the maintenance of heath; so organizing these benefits in such a fashion as to enable every citizen to realize his birth right and longevity.’”
I have explained in one of my post that: Public health is a part of health that is based on preventing, controlling diseases. It also based on protecting people against communicable and non-communicable diseases. Public health is promoting health in several levels including Local, States and federal level. It also includes public and private sectors. Public Health is mainly based on medical sciences like; health economics and policy; epidemiology; occupational medicine; biostatistics. It is more based on preventative medicine than reactionary medicine. Community health and Global Health are parts of Public health at different levels.
Global health is a part of public health at world level or international level. It includes every region in the world. It takes into consideration the definition of Public Health. According to Academia; “A working definition of global health was proposed by Koplan et al; ‘Global health is an area for study, research, and practice that places a priority on improving health and achieving equity in health for all people worldwide. Global health emphasizes transnational health issues, determinants, and solutions; involves many disciplines within and beyond the health sciences and promotes inter-disciplinary collaboration; and is a synthesis of population-based prevention with individual-level clinical care.’”
It is important to learn the critical global health concepts. “In order to understand and to help address key global health issues like those noted previously, there are a number of concepts concerning global health with which one must be familiar. Some of the most important include:
The determinants of health
The measurement of health status
The importance of culture to health
The global burden of disease
The key risk factors for different health conditions
The demographic and epidemiologic transitions
The organization and functions of health systems” (Richard Skolnik 2011).
Skolnik said: “It is also essential to understand the links among health, education, development, poverty, and equity. Building on the previous concepts, those interested in global health also need to have an understanding of how key health issues affect different parts of the world and the world as a whole. These include:
Finally, it is important to understand global health issues that are generally addressed through cooperation. Some of these concern conflicts, natural disasters, and humanitarian emergencies. Others relate to the mechanisms by which different actors in global health activities work together to solve global health problems.
In Conclusion: The definition of health is not universally agreed. It should not be only based on diseases or other physical conditions. It must consider varieties of factors including; nutritional conditions, physical, social, economic and; it must take into consideration mental conditions. Multiple health factors could influence on health care policy. But well-being I chose; is an excellent example of factor included in health definition that could influence on health care policy in modern countries.
Mohamed Elmahady Camara