Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a condition in which “a person experiences good overall health, regardless of current disease or activity levels.” A wide variety of definitions have also been used over the years for various purposes. However, most professionals agree that it refers to a state of good health that includes protection against major diseases, life expectancy, functioning, maintenance of the normal body system, maintenance of the normal physiological processes, and protection from environmental hazards such as extreme weather events, infectious diseases, occupational hazards, and others. The definition also recognizes that health can be affected by the behavior and attitudes of a person, as well as their physiological and other personal characteristics.
One important feature of this definition is that persons who are healthy on the outside and develop serious illnesses or disorders (such as cancer, AIDS, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, asthma, and multiple sclerosis) may still have a need for ongoing medical care and screening. For example, even though an individual may have a high level of education and wealth, they may still need regular HIV or STD testing and counseling. This is because diseases that affect the mind, such as depression and anxiety, as well as physical illnesses like obesity, heart disease, and high blood pressure, can often lead to serious behaviors, such as substance abuse, criminal behavior, and depression. Another important feature of this definition is that health must be achieved and maintained throughout an individual’s life. Therefore, if you develop chronic diseases or illnesses you will need ongoing medical care and possibly treatment in order to maintain your health.
The definition of health includes both physiological and behavioral components. For example, the definition of healthy cholesterol levels indicates that these levels should be within normal limits. However, healthy cholesterol levels may be influenced by factors such as diet, exercise, and social determinants such as social class, gender, race, ethnicity, and education. The degree of social determinants that influence health includes the prevalence of social class and the influence of gender, race, ethnicity, and age.
One other component of the definition of health is that it refers to disease management. Disease management simply refers to the prevention of disease through disease diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. A disease management plan considers the overall course of a person’s health and also takes into account the prevention of diseases from developing or spreading. For example, if a person develops high cholesterol levels and develops cardiac disease, they may undergo a course of medications to control cholesterol levels before they develop cardiovascular disease.
The most important feature of the definition of health is that it places a focus on the life course. The life course refers to the course of a person’s entire life, from birth to death. Although most people typically think of death as a process that occurs over the course of one’s lifetime, the life course actually extends further back than lifetime. The definition provides the framework for planning healthcare needs and treatment at different ages and throughout a life course. In addition to this, healthcare plans are created to address the overall course of diseases.
Because the definition of health care is so important, healthcare systems around the world try to define health in similar ways. For instance, in Canada, health care providers use a very detailed definition that focuses on the path from diagnosis to treatment. Health systems are also required to describe services and supports that help people manage their own health and their recovery. The definitions can be used to create programs and policies that will promote health and the care of particular groups. This helps to make the concept of health more meaningful to patients and providers alike.