Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is ‘a state of total physical, mental and emotional well-being and not just the absence of sickness and disease.’ A number of definitions have also been applied to the concept over the years. For some time the definition has been associated with utilitarianism. Utilizing health effectively means reducing the pain, disability and risk to health, while maximizing the opportunity for recovery. This approach has been embraced by many practitioners of medicine and many organizations, thus making health a priority for people of all ages.
What exactly is health promotion? It is the process by which we reduce the rates of suffering caused by preventable disease and improve health awareness at the same time, thus resulting in less death and disability among susceptible members of a society. A number of terms are used to define health promotion. One such term is public health. It relates to the responsibility of government and other non-profit organizations in creating a community or local awareness of health risks and preventing the spread of diseases. Public health also includes measures such as food production, nutrition, and basic immunizations.
The practice of good health is essential for survival. Good health can be achieved through a combination of healthy behaviors such as eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, minimizing exposure to outdoor allergens, and limiting substance abuse. Prevention is always better than treatment. Activities that promote good health include education about current trends in nutrition, active lifestyles, physical activity, and cleanliness. Prevention is better than cure because it prevents disease before it develops.
To measure health promotion, a number of factors are considered. These factors include population demographics, access to effective treatment, access to nutrition, environmental factors, social support, and health promotion standards. For any given country, the number of deaths and diseases can fluctuate because of geographic differences, technological advances, and social conditions. Therefore, a country’s health system should be able to adjust to fluctuating conditions. To illustrate, an endemic bacterial disease in one country may be relatively rare in another.
To attain good overall health, a country should have a well-developed public health care system that focuses on prevention as well as treatment of specific diseases. Prevention focuses on preventing illness by informing the public about potential health risks and promoting healthy behaviors. Treatment of specific diseases focuses on treating already existing symptoms and diseases. In addition to prevention and treatment, public health measures also include access to nutrition and basic immunizations and clean environments.
One way to ensure a well-developed public health care system is to implement strategies that address key factors such as prevention, early detection, and treatment. Public health programs should evaluate the effectiveness of their strategies and measures on a regular basis. This evaluation should use uniform criteria to determine which strategies are working and improve or remove factors that are ineffective. These strategies can then be adjusted on a yearly basis based on changing conditions and circumstances. For example, the government could reduce the age-old practice of dosing young children with syringes in order to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS.