Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is “an enveloping interplay of physiological processes that regulate the responses of the body to both internal and external stimuli.” Various definitions have also been employed over the years for varying purposes. The definition of health is determined by the state of a person’s physical, emotional, mental, and social well being.
In defining health, a person’s state is then broken down into four categories, which are mind, body, spirit, and behavior. The mind/body aspect is also described by the definition as a state in which the patient experiences an optimum combination of mental activities. When talking about health care, it is a combination of all these aspects. It is said that one cannot separate these aspects because the combination ensures good health.
The definition has also been divided into two sections, the clinical aspect and the prevention of disease. These are both interrelated and work hand in hand. The clinical aspect is concerned with diagnosing the disease, monitoring the patient’s condition and response to treatment, and finally treating the disease. On the other hand, prevention of disease refers to the overall management of the health condition. Thus, when a patient comes in for treatment, the first thing that is done is to determine the underlying cause of the ailment so that a proper diagnosis and the right medication can be given.
More than anything, the definition of health care is determined by the government. It was introduced in 1990 by the National Institute of Health as a framework for defining what health means. Since then, the definition has been refined and updated and now covers almost all health areas including prevention, care of persons with disabilities, nursing care, community health, medical issues, public health, and preventive services. The current definition has undergone several changes due to technological advancements and globalization. Nevertheless, the ultimate goal of the definition is to provide quality health services and care to all. This is why many countries have included the provision of basic health services in their national constitutions.
The second aspect that this definition aims to cover is the concept of health as a state of complete physical, emotional, and social well being. This definition is more controversial because some experts claim that health is a state of fullness whereas others hold that health is something that cannot be reduced to any single element. The debate continues but the general consensus is that health is characterized by a sense of well-being that is achieved through appropriate exercise, healthy foods, and moderate social activities. Most health experts agree that the definition should include prevention of diseases rather than defining health as a condition where a person is free from certain diseases. This is because prevention is always the preferable course of action.
The third aspect is to define health as something that cannot be reduced to any single element. The problem with the current definition is that it has become a source of pride for some and shame for others. Health is a complex concept that involves the presence of many elements like psychological, social, physical, and spiritual. Some cultures look down on the physical health or illness as a sign of weakness, while in other countries it is seen as a sign of success. Therefore, the definition should take into consideration the fact that health is multidimensional and cannot be reduced to anything.