Health is the ability to live fully in the total environment and adapting to changes in this total environment. It is a holistic phenomenon, where the whole person is regarded as a resource.
The concept of health has evolved over the centuries, with different approaches to the definition and promotion of health. Health was originally defined as an absence of disease and infirmity, but modern medical science has taken a more positive approach to the concept of health by emphasising its functional aspect. This has led to a new perspective on health that focuses on promoting a healthy lifestyle rather than simply treating illness.
When people are asked what makes them healthy, many respond that it is luck or their family history. Others cite their lifestyle, such as diet, exercise, and stress management. There is little doubt that personal habits have a significant impact on one’s health. However, there is also a growing awareness that the physical and social environments contribute to one’s health. The broad features of society such as the natural environment, housing, and community infrastructure all influence the health status of individuals, as well as their ability to cope with risk factors.
This view of health is reflected in the World Health Organization’s founding constitution which states that “health is not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. This vision has been embraced by lay people and has contributed to a movement toward a greater focus on health promotion in communities.
A number of different concepts of health have been developed over time, reflecting the many ways that it is perceived and understood by different groups in our societies. These concepts differ according to the underlying assumptions about what constitutes health and what is needed for it. In addition, they may reflect varying cultural and political values.
The etiology of diseases and the relationship between an individual’s genetic makeup and the development of illnesses have also been important issues in the evolution of health concepts. In this context, the term ‘risk factor’ refers to a biological, social or environmental influence on a person that leads to the development of an illness. It is a crucial part of the etiology of a disease and includes both behavioural and biomedical risk factors, as well as upstream risk factors which are more broadly based in the environmental and social factors that influence an individual’s behaviour.
The concept of health is a complex issue that affects all aspects of human life, both physically and psychologically. As our understanding of the causes and treatment of disease has progressed, it is vital that we continue to think about and define health in new ways. Hopefully, this will help to lead to better health and a more positive sense of well-being for all.