Rethinking health

Classes have started in earnest for my graduate program and right out of the gates, we’re dealing with the juicy stuff.  Things like ‘Is healthcare a human right?’  and ‘What is the definition of ‘health”?  Through course readings, I found two definitions of health that were so wonderful that I feel compelled to share them here:

The World Health Organization defines it like this:  Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

Please note that this definition has not been amended since 1948!

One step further, as part of the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion,  WHO expanded the definition (as it relates to health promotion) to say:

Health promotion is the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve, their health. To reach a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, an individual or group must be able to identify and to realize aspirations, to satisfy needs, and to change or cope with the environment. Health is, therefore, seen as a resource for everyday life, not the objective of living. Health is a positive concept emphasizing social and personal resources, as well as physical capacities. Therefore, health promotion is not just the responsibility of the health sector, but goes beyond healthy life-styles to well-being.

Prerequisites for Health

The fundamental conditions and resources for health are:

  • peace,
  • shelter,
  • education,
  • food,
  • income,
  • a stable eco-system,
  • sustainable resources,
  • social justice, and equity.

Improvement in health requires a secure foundation in these basic prerequisites.

This expanded charter for health promotion was published in 1986.

All I have to say (for now) is this:  where was the US in all of this?  It feels like we totally missed the memo.



~ by fluvial on August 27, 2012.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s