The Concept of Health

Health is a condition of mental, physical and social well being in which infirmity and illness are absent. The definition of ‘health’ itself was first used in the ninth century by the Indian physician Ambedkar, and it gradually became identified as the state of complete well- being. The tenor of contemporary discussions on health is to improve the quality of life and minimise health-threatening conditions. Contemporary approaches to health include community health, prevention, basic and medical care, diet and nutrition, family planning, post-operative care and prevention and risk assessment.

Health is promoted through building a positive concept of healthy living. The concept of ‘healthy living’ includes an attitude of responsibility for the well being of all human beings. A positive concept of healthy living requires individuals and organisations to take responsibility for their own health and physical capacities. Individuals need to understand their physical capabilities and their responsibilities towards their health. A positive concept of health promotes an individual’s sense of self worth and contributes positively towards achieving goals like physical education, gender equality, literacy, poverty eradication, etc.

A healthy lifestyle consists of a balanced combination of a balanced diet, regular exercise, social interaction, proper sleep and relaxation. The most effective tool to achieve a healthy lifestyle is active and committed participation in social activities. In other words, a healthy lifestyle involves an individual’s active involvement in his or her community. Healthy lifestyles are not restricted to a particular community or country but encompasses a comprehensive approach that takes into consideration an individual’s whole environment, including his or her work place and interactions with other people. It also includes the consideration of a person’s emotional, psychological and social aspects that determine his or her capability to maintain a healthy lifestyle and attain a higher level of productivity. The most significant factor in promoting a healthy lifestyle is an individual’s belief in his or her capabilities.

According to the third definition of health, disease is any bodily impairment that prevents normal function of a body part. Thus, to be categorized as having a disease, a body part has to undergo some type of treatment or operation. There are three degrees of disease: first is a disease of permanent character which may lead to death; second is disease of slowly progressive nature that may take months or even years to develop; and third is a progressive disease that may lead to death within a short time. This third definition of disease may include conditions that affect one’s ability to live a normal life.

The fourth definition of health is the absence of disease. Health refers to the absence of all sickness or suffering, pain, discomforts and disfigurements. Health may be defined in a general way as the ability to cope with ordinary requirements and to meet necessities. It may be regarded as an actual state or it may involve a partial loss of abilities. According to this third definition, good health is important to maintain a healthy life. A clear demonstration of good health is reflected in the absence of any serious ailment, no incurable diseases, and an ability to adapt to a particular situation.

According to the first and second definitions, health refers to being free from physical illness and disease. It also implies an absence of death and the possibility of recovery. According to the third definition, healthy means being free from minor sickness and disease, being in good physical condition and capable of receiving medical attention when required. The fourth definition emphasizes the importance of avoiding major illness and disease, the availability of medical help and a possibility of recovery.