Health is a state of emotional, physical and social well being where infirmity and illness are absent. It therefore encompasses the whole body, mind and spirit. It is the sum total of our body’s functions including the physiological, psychological and behavioral aspects. It is the sum total of our knowledge and means to attain health and we can attain our objective of health by practicing healthy behaviors. We need the following four pillars to attain the ideal health:
A. The definition of what “healthy” is cannot be reduced to a single thing. In actual fact, there are several definitions and it depends on which one you base your view on. The first definition, which is taken from the perspective of prevention points to the lack of disease or sickness. This definition emphasizes on the fact that absence of disease or sickness does not imply absence of well being or healthiness.
The second definition views good health as absence of diseases and it is an optimistic outlook towards healthiness. On the third definition health is equated with absence of malignancy or cancer. The fourth definition maintains that good health is achieved when the absence of chronic diseases is balanced with adequate intake of preventive measures.
B. The absence of chronic diseases is not equivalent to the absence of health. Since it implies that health is something that takes a long time to develop, a person who has been healthy for a long period of time might seem to have no signs of disease or illness. It must be borne in mind that no amount of health maintenance can cure the diseases once they have begun to develop. This is because no matter how healthy one is at the beginning of his life, he could never expect to remain so for the rest of his life if he lives a life course that is free of any major illnesses.
C. The third definition maintains that good health would only be achieved through the control of disease, disability, and death. By this it is meant that medical care, wealth, social status, education, and other aspects of well-being are unrelated to the control of health. The fourth definition believes that good health is attainable through a combination of good diet, regular exercise, and other psychosocial aspects such as social support and personal relationships. In this definition, well-being is synonymous with health. D. The fifth definition maintains that well-being is the product of a healthy environment, which could be viewed as an outcome of an unhealthy lifestyle. Thus, environmental factors such as physical environment, social environment, mental environment, and physical and mental stress, are deemed to have a great role in determining well-being.
E. The last definition maintains that the definition should be interpreted as a compromise between what people want and what the society as a whole needs. In this case, public health is seen as the more important factor than a person’s ability to maintain good health. Therefore, managing multiple diseases is seen as an imperative part of public health. In this definition, health management is seen to be a crucial element of the process of “public health.”
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