The Meaning of Health

Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being. It is a fundamental right of every human being. The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is the foundation of peace and human progress.

Although some of the factors that influence health are personal choices and environment, others are structural. Among these, socioeconomic characteristics are important. They affect health outcomes and inequities.

During the Middle Ages, a strong influence on health perception was religion. As a result, the church became an important infrastructure after the Roman Empire collapsed. Later, the industrial revolution changed the meaning of health to be economic.

In the 1940s, the French physician Georges Canguilhem wrote The Normal and the Pathological. He redefined the concept of health. His definition included animate and inanimate environments and put the patient in the position of self-determination.

Canguilhem’s definition of health also included the mental dimensions of life. People were healthy in his definition because they could adapt to their environment.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), health is a state of physical, mental, and social well-being. A person is considered healthy if he or she is free from diseases.

Health is a dynamic and complex phenomenon. A person’s health varies over time. Despite these differences, the health of a population can be improved by avoiding unhealthful situations and encouraging healthful activities.

Public health and social medicine approaches to health advocate observation of individual health and the health of the community. They also take actions to reduce health disparities across the country and world.