In the Ottawa charter, health is defined as an object, a resource, or a state of well-being. It encompasses the physical, mental, and social dimensions of life. It also recognizes the connection between health and participation in society. And, it puts the patient in self-determining authority. For example, a patient who is physically fit may also be mentally healthy. The definition of health should be inclusive, not exclusive. In addition, it must take into account the needs of the entire community.
Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and the absence of disease is the hallmark of health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 20% of health is genetic, while 15% is the result of access to health care. The remaining 65% is determined by social determinants, which are factors that affect people’s lives, such as income, access to health care, and environmental conditions. These social determinants are often shaped by wealth, power, and resources.
The WHO’s definition of health was a powerful clarion call to action. By 1950, life expectancies were 48 for men and 53 for women worldwide. Polio and diphtheria were rampant and played an important role in low life expectancies. Today, chronic diseases, like heart disease, have undergone transformation. In mid-century, heart disease, cancer, and stroke were the top three causes of death. By then, we now have a better understanding of the definition of health.
While the factors that influence health are often interrelated, it is possible to address the environmental factors that influence a person’s health. The quality of food, clean water, and air, access to healthy transportation, and an abundance of recreational and social space are all important for overall health. Inequitable policies, cultural norms, and environmental conditions create barriers to health. MDPH prioritizes the elimination of structural barriers to health in order to improve the quality of life for everyone.
Genetics play a major role in health and ill-health, both in individuals and populations. It influences a person’s predisposition to certain diseases and in some cases, their coping mechanisms. The CDC’s smallpox eradication team helped eliminate this disease in 1966. During this time, science has contributed to our understanding of how to achieve optimal health. We now know more about a person’s genetic makeup and better understand the causes of various conditions.
In addition to being physically fit, good mental health is also important for one’s overall health. Chronic illnesses, for example, can impact a person’s ability to perform daily tasks. Furthermore, they can lead to mental illnesses, which can affect one’s quality of life. Mental illnesses also affect the body weight and overall function. So, it is important to work towards a balanced lifestyle, as a balanced life is more likely to have better outcomes.
One way to view the relationship between health and wellbeing is by defining mental health and wellbeing as two different aspects of a person’s life. One model considers these two as separate entities, with mental health at one extreme and mental wellness at the other. In this model, people can move between these two states. For example, someone suffering from bipolar disorder may have a high level of wellbeing if their condition is controlled and their symptoms are under control.