According to the World Health Organization, health is a resource that supports society, providing the means to enjoy a full and meaningful life. According to researchers in The Lancet, health is a state of well-being that allows an individual to cope with the physical and social demands of everyday life. The ability to cope with the stresses of daily life and adapt to new challenges is what constitutes health. Regardless of the definition, health is an important human goal.
To promote health, a community must first define what health is. In the simplest sense, health is the absence of disease. A promotion of health would involve efforts to eliminate disease or reduce its prevalence. The definition of health is much more complex than simply preventing disease. It includes the capacity to function, which is enhanced through regular exercise. A well-rounded definition of health also emphasizes the role of social connections, which make healthy living a key priority for communities.
The WHO definition of health was a powerful call to action for international health policy. In mid-century, life expectancy worldwide was only 48 years for men and 53 years for women. Infant mortality and disease caused a large percentage of low life expectancies. Similarly, the nature of chronic diseases has changed. In the 1950s, heart disease, cancer, and stroke were the three leading causes of death. Today, these three are no longer the leading causes of death worldwide.
Currently, a fundamental distinction is needed between what is healthy and what is unhealthy. Health is an essential aspect of life, but a simple absence of disease does not qualify as health. A healthy person can control their own health and wellbeing, and can deal with diseases as they arise. In contrast, the WHO’s founding constitution proposes that health is a state of complete physical and mental well-being. By definition, health is an ability to adapt to stressful situations, and it includes the mental, social, and environmental dimensions of life.
While an individual’s genetic makeup has some influence on health, the environment has a large influence. Access to clean water and air, adequate housing, and safe streets and neighbourhoods contribute to a healthy lifestyle. However, a lack of neighborhood recreational spaces contributes to a lower sense of satisfaction and ill health. The more natural and enjoyable the environment is, the better the health of its inhabitants. Even the quality of life depends on the quality of the environment.
The WHO defines health as the state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being. Physical health concerns the physical body while mental health is about thoughts and relationships. Public health, on the other hand, refers to the efforts of society to prevent disease and improve the quality of life for its citizens. The definition of health must be flexible enough to account for the differences in environments. If we want to live in a healthy society, we must work toward a balance between the three.