Health may be defined as the wellbeing of an individual’s body. This understanding of health implies the state of human organism when it does not suffer from any disease and functions adequately. In everyday life, the words “physical health” and “mental health” are used. The former refers to physical wellbeing which comes as result of normal functioning of organs. The latter refers to emotional and mental stability that characterizes a person capable of acting adequately in everyday life with its ups and downs. Therefore, people who are physically healthy enjoy their bodies functioning normally and are free from diseases; people who are mentally healthy do not have any mental illnesses and are able to adequately respond to various things in life: ordinary stresses, adversities, and changes, etc.
To compare, in academic sources the basic definition of health proposed by WHO back in 1848 remains the most popular. It says that “health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (Bonita, Beaglehole, and Kjellstrom 2006, 15). As it can be seen, this definition of health includes the social dimension. In 1986, this social aspect was emphasised to a greater extent in a revised definition of health by WHO. Specifically, health began to be understood as the extent to which a person or a group of people can act to satisfy their needs and to realize their aspirations, as well as deal with the environment (Lundy & Janes 2009, 10).
WHO or the World Health Organization is the United Nations’ specialized body which deals with the issue of public health on the international level. Officially, the objective of this agency is “the attainment by all people of the highest possible level of health”, as stated in the organisation’s constitution (WHO 2006). To achieve the stated objective, WHO performs certain functions. Officially they have been determined in the following way: to act as an authority to coordinate and direct health issues internationally, to ensure collaboration with the parent organization – the United Nations, to help governments in different countries of the world to improve health services, to provide health services to “people of trust territories” and other special groups of people, to provide assistance and aid in case of emergencies, and to provide information to the general public on the issues that relate to wellbeing, etc (WHO 2006).
While the objective and established functions of WHO are quite multivector, it is also true that in reality the definition of health provided by WHO is too broad, unrealistic and inflexible. It is hard to disagree that this definition rather applies to the definition of happiness. Besides the world “complete” conveys the utopian nature of the WHO definition of health (Awofeso 2005). Lack of precise and realistic definition of health by WHO partially accounts for why its activity has been so broad and ineffective.
In reality, WHO has functioned effectively just in a couple of spheres. First of all, WHO has effectively enforced vaccination. For example, Lewis in her “World Health Organizations Profile” says that WHO has been effective in eradication of smallpox. The supporters of WHO also say it has been effective in preventing other diseases like polio, measles, whooping cough, and etc through vaccination, which is often compulsory.
However, very often these measures appear not as effective as they are positioned by WHO. For example, compulsory vaccination brings adverse results because of a number of side effects. Children may develop autism or even die in some cases. To illustrate, in California an 800 per cent increase in autism has been recorded since 1979 when the vaccine against measles, mumps, and rubella was introduced (Burnett 204). Therefore, WHO obviously acts in the interests of the vaccine industry (or any other authority?) when it deliberately misrepresents the benefits of vaccines and promotes compulsory vaccination.
Other examples of WHO ineffectiveness include the spread of AIDS, especially in the developing countries, inefficiency in campaigning against practices and businesses that damage people’s health (for example, tobacco industry), and inability to enhance people’s accessibility to medical services in many countries, etc. However, the biggest criticism for WHO is its corruption and bribery. The case of deliberately poor handling of H1N1, which was declared a pandemic without enough ground for that, as well as facts of WHO’s advisors bribery from the biggest drug companies and vaccine manufacturers have completely undermined WHO’s credibility (Adams 2010).
To conclude, the definition of health popularized by WHO should be redefined to represent a more realistic approach to health. Inefficiency of WHO should be recognized by the governments of the states within the United Nations and the existence of this organization should be terminated.