Today many definitions of health may be found in literature. But before looking for an ideal definition of health, we’d better decide for ourselves what health really. In my view, health is about feeling healthy. A healthy person is satisfied with his/her physical condition, when nothing hurts, when no illness prevents him/her from enjoying life. Besides, health also means mental health and being able to normally interact with people and outside world. Mentally healthy people not only live without mental illnesses, but they are also happy and able to go forward to achieve some higher aims in life. Overall, physical health and mental health are both parts of what I understand to be health.
WHO’s definition of health views health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” (quoted in Bonita, Beaglehole, and Kjellstrom, 2006)
Despite the fact that the definition provided by WHO definition may seem too broad and unrealistic, it is still worth being accepted and maintained. Obviously, this definition sets a high standard in the sphere of heath care. Let’s imagine that all world countries achieved the standard defined by WHO. The world would definitely be a happier place to live. Yet, to reach this standard healthy lifestyles should be promoted, quality of health care should be bettered, social well-being ought to be prioritized so that people live in a good social atmosphere, and more services to support mental health should be provided.
Further, the definition given by WHO is holistic, which is its strength. It includes the aspects of physical, mental, and social health. While each of us has a different vision of satisfactory physical, social, and mental conditions, approaching the subject of health in an all-inclusive manner is a step forward. The holistic nature of the definition calls for improvements in all major spheres of life since physical well-being is closely related to mental and social well-being. In addition, the holistic approach enables to consider intervention programs that will focus not just on physical health, but on health as a complex concept.
The definition provided by the WHO has its drawbacks. It lacks a realistic component. I will explain why. First of all, by saying health is a certain state that needs to be achieved, the WHO does not consider the fact that a person’s body and mind do not function in a state. They constantly change and function in a process. Just as everyday life offers new stresses and illnesses, we may be affected by them. This will mean that virtually of all will not fit the definition of health given by the WHO.
Also, this definition seems too broad since it does not specify various factors that influence health. These are, for instance, differences in races, age, genetic predisposition, and sex. What may seem a disease and unhealthy state for a person of one race, would appear to be the condition of being healthy for another. To specify, some health conditions serve as protective measures to prevent more serious health conditions.
Additionally, the definition provided by the WHO seems to be too inflexible. It could contain some component that could vary from country to country, since for different nations one aspects of health outweigh the other, greater problems in some spheres that need to be tackled. If the WHO provided a more flexible definition, many countries would receive a chance to focus their attention in health achievement on their particular problems.
Moreover, by exclusion of the sexual component from the definition, the WHO underestimates the impact of the sexual function in live of modern people. To illustrate, AIDS has become the biggest health issue on the planet, and it is related to sexual function. On sexual health, happiness and wellbeing depends greatly, as well as the humanity’s ability to continue the existence of the man on earth.
Last but not least, the definition given by the WHO does not take into account the environments of different countries, with their particular geographic characteristics. If organisms of people from some countries contain some bacteria, it may mean that these bacteria serve as a reflection of the need to exist in some particular environment but no as lack of health.
All in all, health should not be understood as in prescribed manner in all situations. Environment, sexual wellbeing, age, sex, and other factors need to be considered additionally. Besides, the definition of health may vary a bit depending on a society and its specifics. Also, health is a process rather than state. Considering this, one will be able to focus greater attention on maintaining social interactions, doing physical exercises, and keeping himself/herself satisfied at what he or she has already achieved.