Health - Term Overview

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Health, according to the World Health Organization, is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not only the absence of diseases or illnesses.

This definition is the result of a conceptual evolution, as it arose in replacement of a notion that was held for a long time, which presumed that health was, simply, the absence of biological diseases.

Starting in the 1950s, the WHO revised that definition and finally replaced it with a new one, in which the notion of human well-being transcends the merely physical. The Pan American Health Organization then provided one more piece of information: health also has to do with the environment that surrounds the person. Dr. Floreal Ferrara took the WHO definition and tried to complement it, circumscribing health to three different areas:

  • Physical Health: It corresponds to the ability of a person to maintain the exchange and resolve the proposals that are raised. This is explained by the history of adaptation to the environment that man has, so that his health or disease states can't be outside this interaction.
  • Mental health: Optimal performance within the capabilities it possesses, related to the environment that surrounds it. Health lies in the balance of the person with his environment in this way, which implies a possibility of resolution of the conflicts that appear.
  • Social health: It represents a combination of the previous two: to the extent that man can live with a psychodynamic balance, with satisfaction of his needs and also with his aspirations, he enjoys social health.

Health components

The WHO, after characterizing the concept of health, also established a series of components that comprise it:

  • State of adaptation to the environment (biological and sociocultural).
  • Physiological state of balance.
  • Balance between form and function of the body ( food ).
  • Biological and social perspective (family relationships, habits).

The relationship between these components determines the state of health, and the non-compliance of one of them generates the state of disease, linked to a triadic relationship between a host (subject), agent (syndrome) and environment (intervening factors). Every disease consists of a relationship between a host (subject), an agent (syndrome) and environment (intervening factors).

Another aspect on which the characterization of the WHO (which belongs to the UN ) is focused is the organization of public health. This refers to all the measures that can be taken from the agencies managed by the State for the prevention of ailments and disabilities, for the prolongation of life and for the education of individuals with regard to personal hygiene. The WHO affirms that "health is part of the responsibility of governments."

In this sense, there is much that can be done, including the improvement of public hospitals, the promotion of private initiative (which considers that health is a right of all individuals) and the protection of the environment.

Occupational health

In the workplace, the WHO also speaks out when referring to occupational health. This term is understood to be the activity that promotes the health of people in their work environments.

Occupational health has to do with the physical conditions of the worker, but also with psychological conditions. When entering a job, people are subjected to a health examination, but workplace accidents, repetitive movements associated with certain tasks, exposure to harmful conditions or stress and pressure from superiors can deteriorate their conditions.

To avoid this, it's necessary that those who hire workers do so by ensuring adequate working conditions, framed in safety regulations, and it's also necessary that the State, through its control bodies, promote compliance with the laws in this regard. Today there are many plans (preventive medicine, safety, hygiene ) that aim to preserve the health of employees in their work environment.

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