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A global conversation on defining health: Alex Jadad and Laura O’Grady

10 Dec, 08 | by BMJ Group

Alex Jadad “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

In February of 2008 we dreamt of the possibility of publishing an article about the World Health Organization (WHO) definition of health to mark its 60th anniversary. Today, we were very pleased to see it published on bmj.com.

As we developed our piece, we tried to imagine the process through which the initial definition of health was created just six decades before.  We pictured in our minds a group of very serious and prominent men expressing their ideas in handwritten notes.

After much debate, a formal typewritten document was then circulated, perhaps becoming dog-eared by human touch. Like the writing of our article, this effort involved a small group of individuals, hoping to reach consensus with the aid of the most commonly available communication devices of their time.

During the ten months we spent working on this article, we used the most commonly available communication devices at our disposal. We typed the text using word processing applications on our laptop computers. We shared versions of the article by sending them on electronic mail messages via wireless networks. We used search engines on the web to locate supporting material, and discussed it during calls made with mobile phones.

We were awed to realise that most of these technologies were not even part of science fiction writing in the first half of the 20th century when the definition was written. These tools allowed us to transcend time and distance. They took us just as easily to the foundational documents of the WHO in the 1940s as to lectures describing the power of networks of networks of humans to change society in the future.

With support from the BMJ, we will now take our efforts one step further. Through our editorial and this blog, we invite anyone connected to the Internet, anywhere in the world to contribute to a global conversation about the definition of health.

We welcome contributions from readers interested in enhancing or replacing the work of our predecessors in 1948, as well as from those who think that it is impossible to define health.

All it takes to contribute to this global conversation is to click on the link labeled “Respond” below, clicking again on “Submit Comment” after completing the note.

Through this collaborative and iterative process we hope to spark debates and the sharing of ideas, ideas which may lead to a better understanding of what humans mean by ‘health’. We also hope to create the conditions that will allow future readers, including those who will live in a world many of us here today will not survive to see, to imagine how we did it with our primitive technology, and try to do better with their new found tools.

Laura O'Grady Alejandro R Jadad is professor at the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation; Department of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation; University of Toronto; and University Health Network, Toronto.

Laura O’Grady (pictured) is a postdoctoral fellow, Centre for Global eHealth Innovation, Department of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation; University of Toronto; and University Health Network, Toronto.

Also on the blogs

Richard Smith on the end of disease and the beginning of health

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  • http://www.semeioticabiofisica.it Sergio Stagnaro MD

    From Quantum-Biophysial-Semeiotics (www.google.com) view-point, the definition of health sounds: “Health is the biological condition of every human tissues, characterized by the presence of Determinist Chaos in biological systems microcirculatory bed, bedside evaluted with the aid of a stethoscope. As a matter of fact, under such as physiological condition, fractal dimension of micro- and macro-vascular oscillations is 3.8, when assesssed in both easy and refined clinical methods. The pathological evolution parallels the decreasing of this measure of deterministic chaos: from 3.8 to 1, i.e., from Strange Attractor to fixed Point Attactors, going through limited Cycle Atttractor.Fractal Dimension about 3.8 indicates that local Functional Microcirculatory Reserve is acting normally, and physiological tissue oxygenation at rest as well as during stress tests is perfect, ecxluding whatever disorder.
    Finally, Biological Systems Preconditioning results positive, type I, showing that stress tests ameliorate blood flow along nutritional capillaries, in presence of physiological function of natural free scavengers.

  • David Brookman

    ‘Health’ like all words varies with the utilisation. Health to a public health practitioner differs in the perception of a clincian. Medically untrained people define health by its absence and so seek intervention when they are not in that state. The WHO definition appears to be constructed to promote mental health in those countries where it is not considered and to boost preventive activities and from this aspect it remains relevant.
    I do not think it is feasible to create a binding definition of health because of the nebulous nature of the perception. There are some who regard shamans and charlatans as health practitioners when there is evidence that there activities increase disability and death.
    Do we need a ‘definition’ perhaps just goal setting is enough.

  • Prof. Woody Caan

    Health can be seen as ecological and transpersonal, as well as individual.

    The ecological perspective implies an element of balance and harmony within the environment: a healthy community sustains its own future whereas an unhealthy community degrades and diminishes. EO Wilson’s biophilia concept is linked to this healthy relationship with the ‘natural’ world, and we have developed this in parallel with improved social functioning within Ecotherapy.

    The transpersonal perspective draws on both religious traditions (Donne’s ‘no man is an island…’) and anthropology (e.g. CG Jung’s early observations on ‘collective’ or shared experiences). Here the key concept for all developmental ages is Growth: we are only fully human (and so really healthy) when we participate in growing, deepening and caring relationships. Involvement or what Wanless called ‘fully engaged’ citizenry is the sign of good health whereas conflict and narcissism denote transpersonal disorders.

    The Greeks did include beauty and excellence (Kalia) as part of individual health, just as they included wisdom (Sophia). Both the creative and the ordered features of individual lives enrich their wellbeing – and their individual personhood. V Frankel wrote Man’s search for meaning about the time the WHO definition of health was produced, and his ‘logotherapy’ for lives mentally and physically devastated by World War II is attuned to the same, personal view of complete wellbeing.

  • Kwame McKenzie

    Thanks for this, this is a fabulous initiative that gets to the heart of what is really important in a definition. Too often we spend our time considering accuracy and asking professionals without considering validity.

    Increasing participation and diversity in the discussion could improve validity. It would certainly be fabulous if different philosophical schools were included in the debate.

    I wondered if there was any mechanism through which different forums and paper exercises in classrooms and kitchens across the world could find their way into this debate?

  • http://www.nuhs.edu James Winterstein, DC

    I think your definition could only be improved by changing the word “complete” to “optimal.” This latter term takes into consideration the circumstances of the person, suggesting that the “state of health is the best it can be under the circumstances in which the patient exists – optimal.” We all recognize that we cannot all be “completely physical, mentally and socially well.” But within this parameter, we can meet the requirement of being optimal.

    Jim Winterstein

  • John Patterson

    I am happy with the 1948 WHO definition of health, and agree with David Brookham that a goal is enough. of course it’s a goal which will never quite be attained: can you imagine WHO ever being able to sit back and say,”Well, boys and girls, we’ve done it!”? We need interim operational aims along the way, but don’t let us ditch the goal because we know we’ll never get there. Robert Browning it right:

    “A man’s aim should exceed his grasp
    Or what’s a heaven for?”

  • Abraham Rudnick

    Health and non-health are opposed if not contradictory notions. Hence the WHO attempt to position them as conceptually distinct is suspect on logical grounds. Methodologically, it has long been recognized, e.g., by Claude Bernard, that understanding of health by exploration of non-health is common. Bernard’s notion of the internal environment, leading to Cannon’s notion of homeostatis, paves the way to a promising understanding of the notion of health.

    Following Bernard, health can be viewed as self-organization, which is also viewed as the core feature of life. According to this view, non-health – at the extreme, death – is disrupted self-organization, as illustrated by autoimmune disorders in relation to physical non-health, and possibly by (secondary) delusions in relation to mental non-health. The notion of health as self-organization supports the role of health care as a facilitator of the organism’s or person’s self-repair mechanisms, when possible.

  • http://oii.ox.ac.uk Bill Dutton

    There is a risk that some will view your position as unrealistic, meaning not economically viable. So I think it would be valuable to look at the economics of health in more detail. This is not my field, as I am neither in health or economics, but the debate in Britain over the prescription of statins seems like an interesting case study. Before recently, statins were generally not prescribed unless there were real symptoms of illness, such as very high blood pressure. More recently, statins are being more favorably viewed as a means for preventing major health problems, such as for individuals with high cholesterol counts. Is this a case where a broader definition of health is actually far more economically-minded for any national health service?

  • Meg Thomas

    I think is ‘health’ is when a person feels well and is able to look after their body.

  • Giles Elrington MD

    I propose: “Health means the tolerance of imperfection. This imperfection may be physical, mental, or social: though typically combines, and should be assessed on, all three criteria.”

    The first part of this definition I give every day to my patients, many of whom have medically unexplained symptoms, others have symptoms that cannot be cured. They seem to appreciate it.

    The point is that none of us function perfectly; the attainment of perfect health, defined as freedom from pathology, is impossible (and hubristic?).

    The goal is how best to cope with imperfection. This definition allows a person with pathology to be healthy. A dying person with good paliative care can achieve good health. Death, not health, is the end of disease; disease is part of life and we might as well accept it. Health means getting the best from the interval between birth (or conception?) and death.

  • Peter Davies

    The definition of health is an important enterprise. (1) There is a biomedical component to health, but this exists within a setting that includes biological, personal, relational, social, and political factors. (2, 3)

    For too long doctors have been timid about defining health, and mostly operated at the level of “absence of disease.” For too long as a society we have allowed politicians to get away with shunting health off to a “medical domain” and so to avoid focus on the large scale social and political forces that create health and illness. (4) We need to rediscover the force of Virchow’s statement that, “Medicine is a social science and politics is nothing but medicine on a grand scale.”

    In my essay, Between Health and Illness (2) I propose that, “health is best seen as an ongoing outcome from the continuing processes of living life well. Living life well would be defined in terms of wealth, relationships, coherence, fitness and adaptability. Disease avoidance would be a minor part of this view of health.”

    Such a definition is a political statement, informed by my knowledge of medicine and its social context. I believe that achievement of health should be a goal of public policy and that we should want to achieve healthy individuals within a healthy society. I see health as being a moral and practical good in itself, as well as a means towards other ends. If health is to mean anything it has to include ideas of human flourishing and abundance.

    1.Alejandro R. Jadad and Laura O’Grady
    How should health be defined? BMJ 2008; 337: a2900 [Full text]
    2. Davies, P. (2007) Between Health and Illness Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 50:3 444-452
    3. Misselbrook, D. (2001) Thinking about Patients, Petroc Press
    4. Davies, P. and Jenkinson, S. (2003) End stage social pathology British Journal of General Practice 53:168-9

  • http://www.bmj.com David Payne

    It’s good to see the debate shaping up, both here and a rapid responses to the editorial by Alex and Laura on bmj.com.

    Here’a flavour of some of the rapid responses received so far:

    Consultant psychiatrist Sunil K Raheja is struck that WHO doesn’t mention spirituality in its definition of health.

    “The spiritual has been ignored in a way not too dissimilar to how mental health was ignored because of an over emphasis on physical health,” he adds.

    For Carlo Bellieni, health should be considered as the “possibility of restoring previous skills, or to perform skills the average people who have our same condition can perform.”

    He adds: “Health is not the absolute wellbeing and the absence of any disease: this would exclude much people. Many disabled people show that they can get health, if we consider it as the realization of desires compatible with their state.”

    Medical student Ethan Goh concludes: “The ways people view health and illness, as well as their responses towards disease are as diverse as the definitions of health provided. However, despite this kaleidoscope of perceptions and responses towards health and illness, there is one common thread to be found; that is, everybody desires to be healthy.”

    Thanks for the submissions so far. Yes, we’d like you to use the blog, but I’ll keep monitoring the rapid responses and giving a flavour of them here.

    David Payne
    Editor, bmj.com

  • http://femmefractal.com Vivian S Rambihar MD, Vanessa S Rambihar Med Student, U Toronto.

    Health is complex and changes, requiring a definition from complexity science. Complexity in health is not new, with the word complex appearing many times in René Dubos’ mid 20th century book “The Mirage of Health,” around the time of the WHO definition of health. What’s new is that we now have 21st century ideas, vocabulary, imagery and understanding of complexity from complexity science, which we can use to define, understand and change health.

    This takes us towards a complexity definition – “Health is the complex state or process towards well being and away from disease and infirmity.” This keeps health practical, with goals to strive for, as an everchanging journey with challenges, successes and failures that arise from complex dynamics, and provides a 21st century complexity approach to change. This definition is by definition incomplete and imperfect, and hopefully useful.

    The very method of feedback, iteration and change, and the global web-based collaboration used for redefining health is an example of complexity, not available to Dubos and the WHO 60 years ago. We can now use these experiences and more modern thinking to redefine health and other challenges (http://www.femmefractal.com/tsunami.htm or at femmefractal.com).

    Perhaps, however, we ask too much of health, which can’t be everything and do everything. Happiness intersects health but may not be health. We may need to go beyond definition and beyond health to new ways of achieving well-being, happiness and other areas intersecting health where the term health does not suffice. We have used heart and global heart, with a complexity bottom-up approach to improve health, well-being and something else undefined. For more on this stay tuned for a Valentine’s Day Global Heart Hour launch in 2009.

    We are now left with just defining complex, as big a challenge as defining health. There are many definitions, the best being that something is complex when there is no short description of it (“Complexity 5 Questions” – Gershenson’s 2008 book with 24 opinions from 24 experts).

    Health is complex, and thus there is no short description of it, or, there is no short description of health, which makes it complex. Either way, it is what it is for what you want it to be and what you want to use it for, imperfect, incomplete and a work in progress. And complex.

  • http://www.hassanmasum.com/ Hassan Masum

    Health is both an enabler and an outcome of a life well lived.

    We can be healthy (or not) in ways ranging from the functional to the sublime. Consider Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, with physiological, safety, social, esteem, and self-actualization levels. We intuitively understand how these map onto common yet distinct ideas of health, when we speak of a healthy community, healthy relationships, a healthy lifestyle, and so forth.

    This leads to the natural idea that, as Peter Davies suggests above, health “has to include ideas of human flourishing and abundance”. A life well lived goes beyond the absence or amelioration of illness, to include fulfillment of a broad spectrum of human potential.

  • http://carlobellieni.splinder.com carlo bellieni

    I think that the WHO definition of health is insufficient, and I propose the following reflection. When do we feel to be not healthy? When we cannot do anymore something that was usual to us or when we cannot do something that is common among people of our same state (age, sex…). Thus it might be helpful to consider health as the possibility of restoring previous skills or to perform skills the average people who have our same condition can perform. Health is not the absolute wellbeing and the absence of any disease: this would exclude much people. Many disabled people show that they can get health, if we consider it as the realization of desires compatible with their state. The same can be said for ageing people or for babies. This means that if our desire will be an impossible disappearance of an incurable disease (or performing skills peculiar only to other ages), health will be impossible, while if it will be to perform some skills adequate to our age and condition, it will be possible: how many people with handicaps are excellent sportsmen or singers and who might say that they do not perform healthy athletic or artistic performances? So we can say that the opposite of health is not merely the disease, but the loss of desires, sometimes provoked by disease.

  • http://www.routinehealthoutcomes.com Tim Benson

    During the past 60 years surprisingly little effort has been devoted towards developing operational and measurable definitions of health. Such a definition is needed, because you cannot control what you do not measure. And, you must measure what matters, because you will get what you measure.

    The WHO definition is not very useful, because it is not measurable and introduced a distracting distinction between physical, mental and social well-being, which are not independent dimensions. The term wellbeing is associated with the idea of being in a state, while we should also be concerned with our capabilities and autonomy.

    It is perhaps more helpful to think about just two main dimensions – internal and external. The internal or wellbeing dimension is subjective and addresses how you feel physically and mentally. The external dimension is concerned with capabilities, autonomy and independence.

    I suggest that health has three main aspects: first, survival, then how you feel physical and emotionally, and finally how much you can do. We can further subdivide this into four dimensions (in addition to survival): physical symptoms such as pain; emotional symptoms such as feeling low or worried; being limited in what you can do and being dependent on others. There is an element of cause and effect between physical and mental symptoms, being able to do what you want and being dependent on others.

    This sort of definition can be made operational and measured.

  • carlo bellieni

    I read Bensons’ post; I think health is not exclusively connected with survival and with “what you can do”: death is not an illness (it is common to all of us and to all healthy people), and “what you can do” is different from “what you want to do”. He relates health to the absence of pain, but pain is not always a sign of lack of health (women feeling pain during labour are not unhealthy); last, being dependent from others is common to many healthy people (for instance babies); thus I believe that pain and dependence are a threat to health only if they are unwanted and are an obstacle to the person’s desires. I agree with Benson that health is not only subjective, but has also an objective component, but our wellbeing depends upon the perceived possibility of accomplishment of our own desires. This does not mean to ignore illness, but, to win illness in order to impede it to destroy our desires.

  • Richard Smith

    I’m delighted to see you starting this global conversation. These are my disjointed thoughts that because they are disjointed I’ll list.

    1. To make this conversation truly global you need to reproduce your blog and editorial on other sites. Are you doing that? You should. PLoS Medicine would be one place to start but also Facebook, My Space, etc.

    2. Conversations tend excitingly to diverge. Have you any idea how to bring the ideas back together?

    3. Our definitions of health tend to be personal, but health has to be more than personal. The Australians talk of healthy planet, healthy places, healthy people. People struggle to be healthy if they live in unhealthy places, as many in the world do. And our planet seems to be very unhealthy at the moment.

    4. The debate on the right to health, which features very much in the current issue of the Lancet, is related to this debate. Campaigners have tried to “operationalise” the right to health, but when at a conference last week I asked the UN special rapportuer on the right to health to define health he struggled. Does that matter? I’m not sure.

    4. Returning to the personal, I continue to be attracted by Freud’s definition of health as “the capacity to love and work.” But this is based on the idea that love and work matter the most, which they do to many but not all. The broader definition might be “the capacity to do what matters most to you.”

    Thank you for starting this important conversation.

  • http://www.ivanwolffers.nl ivan wolffers

    Why do we need a definition for health?
    Ivan Wolffers phd md,
    professor Health Care and Culture VU medical centre, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

    In 1980 I was doing research on innovative Primary Health Care projects in Latin America and was interviewing an Indian paramedic in Chimaltenango, Guatemala. “Why do you keep on asking about health?” he asked. “It is something that the Spanish imported in our country together with rifles and Christianity. In our culture we don’t talk about health but we believe in being in harmony with our environment.” His words changed my perspective as a physician and decided to study anthropology.
    One of the most important language laws goes like this: the less we know and understand about a thing, the more words and definitions we have. We use them to communicate, but are in trouble if we have to specify them. What is often overlooked is the fact that words and definitions are not passive things that we have been using for ever and ever. They are created by human beings and they are loaded with beliefs and interests of people and are strongly influenced by the power relations between these human beings. With words we try to steer and often dominate the way others are thinking.

    To be a bit more concrete I would like to give some examples of the function of health definitions in society. Ayurvedic medicine is based on the concept that health is the result of balance between three elements in the body: vaya, pitta and kapham. These are disturbed by changes in nourishment and climate. These disturbances are called dosas (also the word for trouble). With some mathematics it is possible to understand how many variations of dosas in a specific function or organ this can lead to. Interviewing traditional doctors in Sri Lanka in 1983 I learned that they distinguish 21 diseases of the male semen. They could distinguish between them, while we never recognize them and would not even call them diseases. They would play no role in our discussion on the proper definition of health.
    A contemporary example might be the creation by pharmaceutical companies and the doctors they have enlisted of diseases like female sexual dysfunction or premature ejaculation. A lot has been published already how what is no called ‘disease mongering’ works. However, we have only been modestly (if at all) successful in bringing to light the vast interests of those who try to redefine normal human behaviours into disturbances of health. Specifically in the field of mental diseases we have seen a continuing stream of new human problems that should be treated: from adhd and mood disorders to compulsive inhibition disorders.

    Given the fact that words and definitions reflect interests and power it is extremely hard to come to definitions that are shared by all. If we manage they are the outcome of compromises and such definitions suffer from the fact that they are non-specific. For accurate use of language and communication however, we need specific understanding of what we mean. The classic WHO definition of health as a ‘state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’ is therefore something that no-one wants to object, but with little real meaning. It is something we take for granted, but which we cannot use in our work. It reflects mainly a dream, an ideology. It is the result of the hopes of people in the time in which it was defined.
    Anthropologists enjoy looking behind words and meaning, discovering the interests they reflect and understanding how they serve the goals of the dominant. They ‘deconstruct’ such definitions as we call it, and for those who do not like it that things become transparent, it feels as something useless, undesirable and negative. People who do that are party-poopers; they spoil our good times. As a physician I often feel caught in between, and that is the main reason that I want to contribute to the discussion on a proper health definition.

    My suggestion would be to stop efforts to produce an all should fit definition and respect the interests behind them. For instance, there is an important distinction between the definition of doctors and of their patients. In English one can distinguish illness and disease. The first term is the patients’ perspective. The second is the doctors’ definition. In Dutch (my own language) we do not have two different terms, making it even more difficult to realize that there are tow perspectives at all.
    In health-care systems where the market was introduced as the panacea for all that went wrong, the role of the patient has changed. Emphasis has been laid on the patient’s own responsibility and right to choose. This is reflected in the increasing use of clients, consumers, user of care instead of the word patients. It had resulted in enhancing the patients’ perspectives on the one hand. However, in efforts of professionals to ‘educate’ their patients and paraprofessionalize them in order to coerce a joint vision on what should happen, the stronger position of patients has been used to better control the demands of users of care. Using patients’ organisations with the purpose of lobbying for medical treatment that is not very effective and with still unknown side effects but potential risks, is an example of how the conflict of interests is played out through patients’ education and learning to use the ‘proper’ words.

    I would like to advocate a true patients’ perspective. Being a doctor with cancer I had the privilege to see health care from the other side. It often felt like participatory anthropological research. Doctors trying to convince me (in a very nice way) to think mainly of the medical outcomes (lower PSA), while I tried to defend my right to quality of life (my sexual life among others). It appeared to be not so easy, and sometimes I felt manipulated or even cheated.
    One may wonder why all of this matters. Health care is a human product and its main function is to take care of those who are in need. Therefore a definition should start with these needs. They differ by age, by gender, by country, by ethnic background and these needs should not be the needs as perceived by the doctors with a view and knowledge that can only reflect the limited content of their text books. Defining health starts with the worries and concerns of people who need heath care and the challenge for doctors lies in understanding how they can make their knowledge available to these needs. Such definitions are no sweeping statements to please all, but specific, local and a continuing process. The definition for doctors should be simple. Health is what people perceive as their physical, mental, social, environmental (to give justice to the Indian paramedic), spiritual well-being. Health care is the work of health professionals to take car of the disturbances experienced and consists of making available knowledge and skills to meet the needs as expressed by those who seeks their help.

  • http://nelh.blogspot.com Ben Toth

    coming in from Facebook… I think if health means anything apart from being in the normal range of physiochemical indicators it’s got to be a Freud-Nietzsche thing – the capacity to love, to work, to have resiliance, optimism and hope.

  • http://carlobellieni.splinder.com carlo bellieni

    I’m glad to see we are almost on the same wavelenght. My definition of health linked to “our own desires” almost coincides with that expressed by Richard Smith, (“what matters most to you”), and with Woffers’ (“Health is what people perceive as their physical, mental, social, environmental (to give justice to the Indian paramedic), spiritual well-being”), with the difference that these two definitions may lead to associate health with impossible desires (everyone has impossible desires, but everyone knows that his/her health is not correlated to their realization). It is worth to highlight Giles Arlington’s post where he argues -as I do- that health is possible even to disabled people, presumibly because it is -in this case-the realization of their realistic and reasonable desires .

  • Reinhard

    ‘Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’ (Alma Ata declaration)

    A definition which is only fulfilled by a Type-A personality just prior to his (it’s usually a he) myocardial infarct or a manic-depressive during his/her manic phase. For the rest of us ‘Health is the state of the organism when it functions optimally without evidence of disease’ should be good enough. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez]

    Which reminds me: ‘A healthy person is one who hasn’t seen enough doctors / specialists yet’ Merry Christmas

    Reinhard

  • bharat sharma

    DEFINITION OF HEALTH
    “ The balanced state of Doshas(humeurs), Dhatus(tissues), Malas(their metabolic end products) and Agni (digestion, anabolic and catabolic power) and the happy state of Atma (spirit), Indriyas () and Manasa (mind) is called health Swathya)”
    “The body and mind are the house of happiness and disease; their appropriate balance is the cause of happiness or contentment.”
    The synonyms of the body in Ayurveda shows the complete meaning and heart of definition:
    Sharira = which degenerates that is constant catabolism
    Deha = which maintains balance metabolism
    Kaya = which regenerates regular anabolism
    Respectively, these changes happen uninterruptedly and life flows.
    At each moment all the cells of the body works with either anabolic action or catabolic action and these actions were crystal clear to Ayurveda so the three words suggesting actions were selected from the Sanskrit text.
    Mind tells body and body tells the mind but the initiation and regulation of thoughts are not definite (relates with deeds of present and past) which cause health and disease.
    In other view, Ayurveda explains the health as Dharma (religion) means observance of nature’s law. Violation od nature’s law causes disease our self is our nature which ever guides us we do not hear it’s voice and gets diseased. When we here or follow just our mind without balanced thinking ever gets fall. This is explained in how the disease happen due to Prajnaparadha.
    In short, health is the quanitative, qualitative and functional normalcy of Doshas, Dhatus and Malas in the body.
    Health is not just routine investigation or laboratory tests , fully furnished and well equipped hospital’s task or any degree holder’s work. Health is more than these all. Health is organization of multiple factors.
    One may think for self and society both.
    In summary, I would say, health is supreme asset which can be maintain by due observance of nature that is Ayurveda
    Ayurvedic concept of health
    Ayurveda has a positive approach to health. Just absence of disease does not certify health.
    The feeling of well being is equally important. Individual health is assessed with mind, body and behavior of man in relation with personal and society both.
    The mind is assessed for higher state of consciousness, creativity, intelligence, perfect mental health and perfect mental- body constitution.
    The body is assessed for bio-chemical integration, physiological integration, and resistance to disease. It also includes reversal of ageing, perfect physical health and maximum physical performance.
    The behavior is assessed for action in dealing with all the laws of nature, more stability with maximum flexibility for personal, familial and social relationship.
    Ayurvedic aspects of health:
    Health is our being and disease is punishment for our misdeeds (karma)
    Health is virtue, disease is vice;
    Health is knowledge, disease is ignorance;
    Health is light, disease is darkness;
    Health is harmony, disease is otherwise;
    Health gives happiness, disease gives sadness.

  • http://www.routinehealthoutcomes.com Tim Benson

    I like Richard Smith’s idea that health is the capacity to do what matters most to you. (Is capability a better word than capacity?).

    However we need to bear in mind Karl Popper’s suggestion that it may well help to formulate our demands negatively:

    “I believe that there is from the ethical point of view, no symmetry between suffering and happiness, or between pain and pleasure. Both the greatest happiness principle of the Utilitarians and Kant’s principle ‘Promote other people’s happiness …’ seem to me (at least in their formulations) wrong on this point which, however, is not completely decidable by rational argument. In my opinion human suffering makes a direct moral appeal, namely, the appeal for help, while there is no similar call to increase the happiness of a man who is doing well anyway. …. There is some kind of analogy between this view of ethics and the view of scientific discovery which I have advocated in my ‘The Logic of Scientific Discovery’. It adds to clarity in the field of ethics if we formulate our demands negatively, i.e. we demand the elimination of suffering rather than the promotion of happiness. Similarly, it is helpful to formulate the task of scientific method as the elimination of false theories rather than the attainment of established truths.”

    Karl Popper. The Open Society and Its Enemies Vol 1 Plato. 5th Edition, Routledge, 1966, pp 284-285.

  • http://www.veabien.com Pablo Bohorquez MD PhD

    health is the minimun mental and physical status that allows a particular human being to be happy.
    ¿What is happines? when your life is creative, dignificant and free and your espectatives (wishes) are smaller than you achievements.

  • Richard Fitton

    The issue of definitions of health, disease, fitnes, illness, disease and wellnss is important semantically to patients and heir own managemen o their livs.

    The the titleS and definition of our health and disease service organisations Englan are misleading to the public and professionals alike. The NHS is actually mainly used as a national illness, disease and impairment management service. It invests not in the abundance of health and fitness (an abundance of on or more type f health) but in managing disease and illness.

    We have a department of health that oversees all disease and health matters but mainly invests in the NHS which invests in disease, illness and impairment management.

    When working with patients from 1993 to 2008 in a patient designed an patient centred medical centre in Hadfield, Derbyshire, England, we used the following definitions successfully to allow patients to regain their misappropriated health from their paternalistic doctors!:

    Disease is the abnormal anatomy, physiology, pathology of a subject.

    Illness is the subjective or objective suffering and reduced experienced or observed of well being that is caused by disease OR lack of health.

    Health is a set of activities and experiences. They may be physical, social, mental (behaviour, communication, cognition an communication) and spiritual (some sot of harmony with the environment and self).

    Wellness is a lack of illness and can be improved by health activities

    Fitness is an abundance of on ormer of physical, mental, social and spiritual health. Fitness comes from continued practice of health activities.

    Absence of health can cause illness and eventually disease.

    Disease can reduce health in one individual but not in another individual. It can cause illness I one individual but not in another.

    Health can reduce or cure illness that I caused by disease or by ill-health.

    .

    Patients quickly become passive when treated solely as cases of disease and the NHS still unwittingly perpetuates the practice of reducing patients’ autonomy an health activity (and hence health) when the patient is treated for disease.

    Richard Fitton GP Manchester England

  • http://www.bmjwa.com Dr Joseph Ana

    I don’t actually see that it is the ‘complexity’ or ‘altruism’ or ‘unachievability’ of the 1948 WHO definition of Health that is the problem. The problem lies in the failure of society and governments, especially in the developing world to face up to the challenge of meeting the aspirations, ‘vision’ if you like, of the drafters of the WHO definition. 90% of the burden of disease is still coming from countries whose GDP accounts for 10% of the global GDP, whereas the richer countries that face only 10% of the burden of disease hold-on to 90% of the global GDP. The MDGs are not achievable on schedule because of this and other human failures: unnecessary wars that divert resources from health and the social sector; continuing environmental degradation by human activity; rampant corruption that diverts resources away from health and education improvement schemes leading to more ignorance and illiteracy (see what is happening with the credit crunch cycle which started from the greed, incompetence and avarice of some in the financial sector);lack of political will to achieve the aspirations of WHO’s definition of health; etc. I think that rather than tinker with the definition, every effort should be directed at mobilising society and governments to do more ( politically, economically, socially) to achieve health as defined in 1948 by WHO. The WHO itself should do more to lead such a mobilisation.

  • http://www.i2bc.es Ignacio del Arco Herrera

    I believe we should keep it simple. We need a consistent definition to be used and understood by organizations (defining the health promotion and assistance), professionals (working to improve other´s health) but also by any person, patient or not (to promote consciousness about their own role in their health status). For example:
    HEALTH: Biological characteristic that explains the subjective state of global and dynamic balance of an organism, from the physiological and emotional perspectives

  • http://www.femmefractal.com/ Vivian S Rambihar and Vanessa Rambihar

    Facets of Health.

    Reading the responses on health while reading about complexity (Gershenson “Complexity 5 Questions” book) show me parallels. Health and complexity appear similar in many ways and can inform each other.

    Edgar Morin (p 99 of Complexity 5 Questions) says that complexity is that which cannot be reduced to a single idea and cannot be isolated from its context. Mark Newman (p 104) says that the difficulty is choosing the level, since models of complex systems range widely, from simple mathematical models to complex computer simulations (for economics and the market). He says that both extremes have their uses, with most scientists finding a sweet spot somewhere between these extremes.

    Similarly for health, which is not reducible to a single idea and not isolatable from context, with a range of descriptions and definitions. The definition of health thus lies somewhere in a range, according to the use of the definition and the context. The challenge is to find a single “sweet spot” definition that works for different contexts and uses, including a different world than the one 60 years ago when the WHO definition was created.

    The changing conception of health is mentioned in the timely Jan 3, 2009 BMJ cover article on social networks and happiness, that “conceptions of health and concerns for the wellbeing of both individuals and populations are increasingly broadening to include diverse quality of life attributes, including happiness.”

    This returns us to Dr Jadad’s “In the end…health, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder; and that a definition cannot capture its complexity.”

    Unless, as suggested earlier, the definition is complexity, which incorporates in a single definition of health, the concept of dynamics, context and a diversity of definitions, as facets of health.

  • John Last

    I have followed this discussion with great interest, having spent many hours over the past40 years or more, discussing and reflecting on what we mean by ‘health’.
    My colleagues and I provided several definitions of ‘Health’ in the Dictionary of Epidemiology (4th Edition 2001) and the Dictionary of Public Health (2007) both published by Oxford University Press. Here in full but without the special fonts that don’t transfer to your comment box, is what I said in the Dictionary of Public Health; all associate editors and peer reviewers approved of this:

    health Derived from an Old English word hal, meaning hale, hearty, sound in wind and limb, health has been defined in many ways. The preamble to the constitution of the World Health Organization (1946) defined health as ‘A state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.’ In 1984, WHO-sponsored discussions about health promotion led to a revised description and definition that condenses to ‘The extent to which an individual or a group is able to realize aspirations and satisfy needs, and to change or cope with the environment; health is a resource for everyday life, not the objective of living; it is a positive concept, emphasizing social and personal resources as well as physical capabilties.’ This implies that individuals, families and communities have some control over many determinants of their health There are several alternative definitions including the following:
    1. A structural, functional and emotional state that is compatible with effective life as an individual and as a member of family and community groups. This definition is made up of physiological and functional ingredients that can be measured or at least assessed objectively.
    2. A sustainable state of equilibrium or harmony between humans and their physical, biological and social environments that enables them to coexist indefinitely. This does not necessarily imply that the environment or life-supporting ecosystem must remain unchanged; however its capacity to adapt or adjust to change is not adversely affected by human activities and changes in aspects of the environment and/or the life-supporting ecosystem do not adversely affect human health.

    I have a slight philosophical bias towards my own definition, which is #2, the final one given above, because it makes explicit the fact that human health is inextricably intertwined with the health of other living things in our complex life-supporting ecosystems.

    John Last

  • http://www.goodhealthkeeping.co.uk Dr Peter Mansfield

    Health is in Quality of Process

    The works arising from the Pioneer Health Centre in Peckham strongly illuminate how health should be defined (Pioneer Health Foundation http://www.thephf.org).

    Health is visible in the process of life, not in status at any time. It is the quality of the movement from this moment to the next that counts, and is independent of present circumstance. Most people of fairly lowly but self-reliant means are healthier than those who are very wealthy but cannot boil an egg, or fear to walk the streets without a bodyguard.

    Pechkam defined health as the faculty for mutual synthesis with one’s environment. I would suggest a simpler version. Health is the ability to participate in creation (or constructive activity, if you prefer). Healthy activity would be “wholesome” – an example of the new terminology we will need to discuss health.

    By this definition, most of us are reasonably healthy most of the time. Doctors study how empty the glass may be: health practice would wish to know how full. Having made a modest career of health practice there past 30 years, I know that it is quite different from medicine, far more economical and much more popular with its users: yet it can rapidly reduce reliance on and demand for expensive medical intervention – by up to half, in my experience. It reduced my personal prescribing costs to under half the national average (according to official Prescribing Analysis and Cost figures – PACT).

    What I have been working towards is a health action/advisory service, probably call-centre based, alongside medicine and independent of it (www.goodhealthkeeping.co.uk). I am confident that such a policy would at last put a cap on public medical demand, and probably drive it down by up to half within about a decade.

    Whether we are yet ready to expand our vision this much remains to be seen. It has been a great disappointment to me personally not to have seen health practice achieve critical mass, instead of the tiny niche market it is today. In any case the initiative is unlikely to come from within medicine, and probably not government. Examples of good health practice crop up everywhere else, however, in education projects and social enterprises. I come across a new example almost every week.

    Economic and climatic constraints will eventually force healthy living upon us, or we shall perish. It would be nice to head off anything so dramatic by appropriate, sizeable change now.

  • Paula Casillas

    Interesting to see that others in this discussion would like to see the spiritual dimension included in the definition.
    I am a student of A Course in Miracles, and after someone sent me the link to this blog, this sentence in the text jumped out at me, which nicely captures some of the thoughts expressed above:

    Health is inner peace.

  • http://in3.uoc.edu/opencms_in3/opencms/webs/grups_de_recerca/psinet/EN/ Manuel Armayones

    Congratulations for this wonderful and democratic iniciatva to build the future of all health. I make my modest contribution!

    Health is an ongoing process of interaction between variables: physical, psychological, social and cultural rights that result in a number of parameters that are interpreted, individually, and collectively, in necesarily relation with individual or collective organization and explained in relation to the social and cultural context in which the process is analyzed.

  • Barbara Starfield

    As health is a multi-dimensional concept encompassing attributes of wellness as well as illness, it is appropriate to view it as a profile. This has been accomplished for children and teenagers ; the profile employs domains that are relevant for adults as well. The profile uses data from self-reports, proxy reports (for those unable to respond for themselves), and information readily available from health information systems and medical records. The domains are Discomfort (including symptoms and Limitations of Activity); Satisfaction with one’s health (including overall perceived health); Resilience (including involvement with family, problem solving, physical activity, nutrition) ; Risk States and Behaviors , Diseases and Disorders, and Achievement (Age-appropriate ‘development’). (A additional domain, Longevity, was originally intended to characterize life expectancy but insufficient data are available to characterize this on an individual level; on a population level this could be included and would capture the aspect of equity in health across population subgroups.) The profile provides a composite representation of health , both on an individual level and, when aggregated across population subgroups, on a population level. Information on the properties and application of this instrument (known as CHIP Child Health and Illness Profile ) are available at http://www.childhealthprofile.org. (currently being revised Feb 2009)
    As this method solves the problem of encapsulating both health and wellness in one metric for each person (and, by aggregation, for a population) is seems to have great promise in characterizing the heretofore nebulous concept of ‘health’.

    References:

    Starfield B, Riley A, Green B, Ensminger M, Ryan S, Kelleher K, Harris SH, Johnston D, Vogel K. The Adolescent Child health and Illness Profile. Medical Care 1995; 33: 553-66

    Starfield B, Forrest C, Ryan S, Riley A, Ensminger M, Green B. Health Status of Well vs Ill Adolescents. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 1996; 150: 1249-56

    Starfield B. Child and Adolescent Health Status Measures. The Future of Children. 1992; 2: 25-39

    Starfield B, Bergner M, Ensminger M, Riley A, Ryan S, Green B, McGauhey P, Skinner a, Kim S. Adolescent health status measurement: Development of the Child Health and Illness Profile. Pediatrics 1993; 91: 430-35

    Riley, A.W., Forrest, C.B., Rebok, G., Starfield, B., Green, B.F., Robertson, J., Friello, P. (2004) The Child Report Form of the CHIP-Child Edition: Reliability and Validity. Medical Care, 42(3):221-231.

    Riley, A.W., Forrest, C.B., Starfield, B., Rebok, G., Green B.F., Robertson, J. (2004). The Parent Report Form of the CHIP-Child Edition: Reliability and Validity. Medical Care, 42(3):210-220.

    Alonso, J., Urzola, D., Serra-Sutton, V., Tebé, C., Starfield, B., Riley, A.W., Rajmil, L. (2007). Validity of the Health Profile-Types of the Spanish Child Health and Illness Profile-Adolescent Edition (CHIP-AE). Value in Health, 1098-3015/07.

    Rajmil, L., Serra-Sutton, V., Estrada, M.D., Fernandez de Sanmamed, M.J., Guillamon, I., Riley, A.W., Alonso, J. (2004) Adaptación de la version española del Perfil de Salud Infantil (Child Health and Illness Profile-Child Edition, CHIP-CE). An Pediatr (Barc), 60:522-9.

    Rajmil, L., Serra-Sutton, V., Alonso, J., Herdman, M., Riley, A.W., Starfield, B. (2003) Validity of the Spanish version of the Child Health and Illness Profile-Adolescent Edition (CHIP-AE). Medical Care, 41(10):1153-1163.

    Riley, A.W., Spiel, G., Coghill, D., Doepfner, M., Falissard, B., Lorenzo, M.J., Preuss, U, Ralston, S.J. and the ADORE Advisory Board. (2006). Health Related Quality of Life (HRQoL) among children with ADHD in Europe at entry into treatment. Supplement: European Journal of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 16(1):38-45.

    Riley A.W, Coghill D, Forrest C.B, Lorenzo M, Preuss, U., Ralston S.J, Spiel G. (2006). Validity of the Health-Related Quality of Life Assessment in the ADORE Study of Children with ADHD in Europe: Parent Report Form of the CHIP-Child Edition. Supplement: European Journal of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 16(1):63-71.

    Riley, A.W. (2004) Evidence that school-age children can self-report on their health. Ambulatory Pediatrics, 4(4):374-376

  • http://www.thephf.org/ Ms. R. J. H. Frost

    We would like to thank the BMJ for opening up a debate on the definition of health. The Pioneer Health Foundation exists to disseminate the research of the Peckham Experiment which was a unique enquiry into the nature of health. This year we have initiated an annual essay completion open to any students at universities or institutes of higher education in the U.K., whatever course they are studying (see http://www.marylangmanprize.co.uk). The house in which the pilot project started in 1926 – the Depression – is due to have its blue plaque put up by the National Heritage at the end of March. There, for sixpence a week, member families were entitled to the use of a nursery, social club, poor man’s lawyer, laundry and dress making faculties. (The nearest approach to this was the first funded Healthy Living Centre, St Augustine’s, at Kings Lynn, Norfolk)(i).

    In return, they agreed to submit to what the doctors called ‘the periodic overhaul’, a thorough medical & dental examination. It soon became apparent that whatever abnormalities were found were returning in some form even where they had been successfully treated, on return to the same environment that had caused them in the first place.

    The doctors therefore imagined and built an environment the Pioneer Health Centre in which they could ‘grow health’ and study the nature of health as opposed to the treatment of disease. It was this, and a research that saw families as the focus of the study of health, and the conflict between the limits of statistics and the assessment of quality, that precluded funding within the NHS. The Pioneer Health Centre flourished before the war, was reborn after, and closed in 1950.

    This year’s entries to our essay competition will give us a good idea whether the welcome BMJ discussion of the definition of health is echoed in the wider academic population.

    Ms R.J.H.Fost M.A. Chair, Pioneer Health Foundation.

    (i) Environment Health Journal October 2000
    (ii) Pearse, I. and Crocker , L. (1945) The Peckham Experiment. Routledge
    (iii) Gruffudd, P. (2001) ” Science and the Stuff of Life’: Modernist health centres in 1930s London’. Journal of Historical Geography. 27 (3), 395-416.
    (iv) Darling , E. (2006) Reforming Britain. Abingdon.

  • Simon R Wilkinson

    Health as ’affective balance’:
    Social scientists have helped in the differentiation of dis-ease into the categories of illness, sickness, disease, disorder and predicament. These are defined from different perspectives: the subjective experience, the attribution of a state to explain an observed diminished functioning in role, attribution of a state based on unique identified pathological changes, attribution of a probable state based on a co-occurrence of symptom constellations, and the challenges presented by the state of dis-ease. These different constituents of the state of dis-ease do not need a priori to be coherent. One can have an illness experience without it affecting role function. One can have a disease state whilst one remains subjectively without dis-ease.

    The enigma of health escapes our grasp when we try to conceptualise it without the nuances used for dis-ease. A developmental perspective shows how the concept of health can be illuminated through an exploration of the child’s developing understanding of her dis-ease. The child can distinguish her subjective state of illness from other forms of dis-ease through the process whereby a parent attributes sickness to the child when not occupying the same role in the family’s usual interactional dance. The parent notices that ‘something is up’ and can come to attribute sickness as the explanatory model. This may or may not be confirmed by medical expertise as being within the disease/disorder spectrum. Regardless, the course of the dis-ease presents a predicament which the child has to manage. Mapping health onto these parameters, we can come up with the following: 1) the child’s subjective sense of wellness, which arises 2) on the basis of a state of health being attributed to the child to account for the usualness of the interactional pattern between parent and child. Professional expertise is not usually brought in to confirm a variety of health – part of the irony of having a ‘health service’ which concerns itself with dis-ease. There are rarely predicaments associated with a state of health, although we meet patients who have maximised the care available to them at home through claiming illness in order to maximise their health in a more balanced interactional dance with their parents.

    What is this state of health which is orthogonal to that of dis-ease? Within the framework used here it is possible to have both health and disease at the same time, as Illich’s definition of health would also support. The healthy individual is able to function in her usual capacity through effective use of coping strategies – and I would add, in so doing is in a state of affective balance. If she had not been in a good enough state of affective balance then functioning would have been jeopardised and her subjective state would have shifted to dis-ease, but not necessarily to a state of disease or disorder. The origin of the word patient lies in patior (L) for ‘I suffer’, with the corresponding state of dis-ease; the origin of health lies in hælþ(OE) for wholeness, with the corresponding state of integrated oneness which is acheived when in affective balance.

    Reference: Wilkinson SR (2003) Coping and complaining: attachment and the langauge of dis-ease. Brunner-Routledge, Hove.

  • Mark Montgomery

    I believe there is no need for a definition of ‘health’. ‘Health’ is a personnal thing which is unique to each and every individual.

  • Students from the University of Konstanz studying Health Psychology

    We discussed the WHO’s definition of health in our seminar on health cognitions and came up with the following suggestion:

    Health is a state measured by objective and subjective criteria related to physical, mental and social well-being underlying permanent fluctuations.

  • yvonne Inguz

    I believe that health is a resource for every day life. It is an energy and a vitality without which it is difficult to survive and find purpose. Physical, mental, social, environmental and other factors can impact on this energy and vitality. Health also exists beyond life – we eat healthy meat, we donate healthy organs and in decay we provide energy for other systems.

    December 17th, 2008 at 11:11 am

  • Kristin Erickson

    Is this discussion still ongoing? Or if ended…were conclusions made? A new definition suggested?

  • Sarah Salem, Palm Beach

    Health is being able to function normally and perform the normal actions of daily life without the hindrance of bodily or mental dysfunction. I believe that health is mostly taken for granted, and people do not truly realize the value of health until they actually fall ill. Then when they feel well again, it is the best feeling in the world.

  • Bernard L.

    I would contend that health is the absence of disease or infirmity, and/or a mental and social state that would not, under any normal circumstances lead to a state of disease or infirmity. In this definition a disease state would be defined as any condition, chronic or acute that would cause an individual, physical or emotional pain, or any condition that if left untreated would progressively worsen.

  • J.A.Marin

    This might be a bit more simplistic than most of the other
    definitions on here but as per my understanding “Health” is the lack, or absence,
    of any foreign substrate that may diminish ones physical, cognitive and/or spiritual well-being. In essence shifting one’s homeostasis to an undesired state.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lisbettpr Lisbett Perez

    Hello, I am a
    pharmacist student, and I think this article is very interesting. I think the
    definition given by WHO is a good definition, but I don’t agree with the word
    “complete” because complete is an absolute word, and each person can
    ask the same question of what do they mean by complete, and every one will have
    a totally different answer and all of them may be correct. Does that include a
    religious well-being as well because for many people this is an important part
    of feeling well about their lives. Does it make me an unhealthy person if I
    don’t socialize a lot with people on the community? Does “complete”
    means perfection? Because basically, when you have a complete physical, mental,
    and social well-being it’s like being almost perfect. I think this word,
    complete, brings too many questions and doubts about what health really means,
    and I don’t really think a complete definition can be made since so many
    aspects of a person life form part of his/her health.

    In my opinion, I
    don’t think health can me completely defined or measured. For instance, if I
    feel stressed for a moment about an exam that I will have tomorrow, but I don’t
    have any disease or a virus, etc. does that mean I am unhealthy just because
    for that moment I don’t have a complete mental well-being? Another example that
    I can think of is if I have depression because of losing a loved one. In my opinion, in these cases, I
    am healthy, how I am feeling is a transitional and momentary situation that
    doesn’t make me unhealthy. So, I think
    that the state of being healthy somewhat depends on each person’s perception on
    the way they feel.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lisbettpr Lisbett Perez

    Hello, I am a
    pharmacist student, and I think this article is very interesting. I think the
    definition given by WHO is a good definition, but I don’t agree with the word
    “complete” because complete is an absolute word, and each person can
    ask the same question of what do they mean by complete, and every one will have
    a totally different answer and all of them may be correct. Does that include a
    religious well-being as well because for many people this is an important part
    of feeling well about their lives. Does it make me an unhealthy person if I
    don’t socialize a lot with people on the community? Does “complete”
    means perfection? Because basically, when you have a complete physical, mental,
    and social well-being it’s like being almost perfect. I think this word,
    complete, brings too many questions and doubts about what health really means,
    and I don’t really think a complete definition can be made since so many
    aspects of a person life form part of his/her health.

    In my opinion, I
    don’t think health can me completely defined or measured. For instance, if I
    feel stressed for a moment about an exam that I will have tomorrow, but I don’t
    have any disease or a virus, etc. does that mean I am unhealthy just because
    for that moment I don’t have a complete mental well-being? Another example that
    I can think of is if I have depression because of losing a loved one. In my opinion, in these cases, I
    am healthy, how I am feeling is a transitional and momentary situation that
    doesn’t make me unhealthy. So, I think
    that the state of being healthy somewhat depends on each person’s perception on
    the way he/she feels.

  • anatanoting

    Definition of “Health” is very complex and varies based on personal opinions and thoughts. Health is defined as a state in which the body is free from any pains, discomfort, or disease. Your body is able to function with all vital organs in sync with each other to allow you to be alive, breathing, and have the ability to experience the five senses. Health is something very vital and one should be able to know the proper precautions to take care of themselves to prevent from any harm.

  • http://www.facebook.com/victor.peguero.5 Victor Peguero

    I think that the ambiguity of the concept and definition of
    health need to be readjusted to our expectations;
    but including in the equation the economical factor and changing the evaluation
    focus from: “what underdeveloped country can do to improve their health
    condition” to “what can better countries (overdeveloped) do to help them”.
    This, obviously trough the screen and counseling of the WHO. This because I don’t
    think that a country that can’t improve their health issue trough their own
    means and resources it’s going to get better in aspects like decrease the number
    of premature deaths or power to conquer chronic diseases.

  • Stacia Schaefer

    The WHO definition of health leaves nearly all of us in an unhealthy state by the addition of the word “complete.” This can be seen as a negative component of the definition, however, it does leave the world attempting to continue to improve until we reach that point. That being said, I do not think the definition makes health, as defined, attainable for all.

  • Meredith Brook

    Last week during my Social and
    Behavioral Pharmacy Course, we were asked to take a few minutes to define the
    word health. It seems to be such simple word that we as future healthcare
    providers use everyday, but many of us struggled to produce a concrete answer.
    Several students volunteered to share their responses. However, who was to say
    that one student’s answer was any better than another? Health truly is in the
    eye of the beholder. What one person may think encompasses health, may not be
    what another person believes. The WHO defines health as, “a state of complete
    physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or
    infirmity.” But, how do we begin to define the word complete? Is it excellence?
    Or maybe it’s perfection? Then again, we know that no one is physically,
    mentally and socially flawless. So, does that mean no one is ever in a complete
    state of health? Well judging by this definition, I guess it’s safe to say we’re
    all unhealthy in some way or another.

  • Zenaida Zaldivar

    Health is a broad concept that has been seen from different
    perspectives. Health is what separates us from disease, but beyond that, is the
    equilibrium between body, mind and social environment. It is the best gift for
    the sick and the fortune for those who possess it.

  • PharmD Candidate

    In my opinion the WHO definition is
    more accurate and comprehensive than merely define health as the absence of
    disease or infirmity. Health is a dynamic equilibrium and with the disease
    forms a continuous process. I understand that most people are constantly in
    this dynamic equilibrium and hardly reach a state of complete physical, mental
    and social well-being. For this reason, I agree with the rest of the people on
    this forum who think that the word “complete” should be changed. The
    word “complete” started a huge issue because is too regimented, too
    restrictive and too demanding. I think the gap between health and disease is
    not absolute and will depend on the perspective of each individual.

  • Tulsi Kirtee Patel

    Hello,

    In my opinion, the definition of health is the state of being hale, sound and whole in body and soul. I think one’s health includes one’s body, mind and soul. I agree with the WHO’s definition of health except it uses the term “complete” which implies lacking nothing. It is almost impossible to feel completely well and satisfied in body, mind and soul at all times. In my opinion, a person can call himself or herself “heathy” when he or she feels that there are very few physical and mental impediments to doing things in his or her life that he or she would like. I would consider a person who is suffering from a chronic illness healthy if he or she is able to maintain creativity and vivacity in his or her life. It is very difficult to define health in one sentence. I think being healthy has a lot to do with mind, feeling a sense of balance, taking care of your body, having a life filled with love, being satisfied with who you are, etc. I feel that WHO’s definition of heath does not take these things into account.

  • Amnet Pantaleon

    I believe the complexity in defining Health lies on the fact that it is a concept extremely related with society and its development. Centuries ago, the definition would have been very simple, just by staying away of well known diseases could have been enough to be declared “healthy”. Nowadays, as society has evolved not only in technology but also in knowledge and instruction, the definition becomes a little bit more complex; we now care about the “mind well-being”, the “social well-being” and so on; and in my opinion the list will be growing indefinitely as societies’ interest change with the years.

  • Mayur Patel

    As the definition of health is elusive, the process
    of defining of health is still been continued. Since the definition of health is coined in
    1948, we have been introduced to revised versions and different perspectives of
    it. WHO proposed a definition of health covering the social, physical and
    psychological dimensions of health terming it to be a complete definition. In
    the definition, physical health considers body as a machine and health as a condition
    where each part perform its function optimally in liaison with the other parts.
    Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or
    her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work
    productively and is able to make a contribution tor community (WHO).
    Social health, according to Talcott Parson is the ‘state of optimum capacity of
    an individual for the effective performance of the roles and tasks for which he
    has been socialized’. It encompasses interaction of person with others in the
    society to work in co-operation and harmony for effective performance. Thus, utilizing
    three different dimensions a comprehension definition makes it too idealistic
    and unfeasible, leaves nearly every one unhealthy by WHO definition. However,
    one can be defined healthy in the context viewed, based on the dimension for
    health for which one is being studied for. A person can be physically healthy
    but may suffer from psychological disorder or illness which makes him unhealthy
    based on definition of healthy. WHO definition termed to be complete does not
    take into account other dimensions in health. In order to cover other dimensions, health can
    be defined in other contexts- cellular, cultural, occupational and environmental.

    Although we try to give different dimensions to
    define health, it is difficult to reach comprehensive definition of health due
    to broad and objective nature, and a deficiency to reach each subjective dimension.
    According to my opinion, health is a state of mind and body, its definition is subjective
    concept and context based rather than objective.

  • Jorge E. Ruttell

    In my opinion, health is much related with the economical aspect of each nation or territory in the world. To achieve a healthy population, it is essential to invert funds with the purpose of construct or build a society with a strong public health. As we all know, goods in the world are unevenly distributed. There are too many “countries in development”, which are; poor nations that cannot handle the actual expectations of global health. For that reason, each country actually must define its current health status; since we know there are many people in the world that lacks a good quality of life, according to the actual definition of health.

  • Ravin Seewah

    I feel that WHO’s definition of health is partially correct depending on where in the world one might be. Health definitely is not only one’s “health” (being sick or not) well-being but also one’s social, behavioral, physical, and mental well-being. One’s body and soul has a lot to do with whether a person is so called “healthy” or not. With that said, there are many definitions of health which varies from person to person and no one is wrong with their answer.

  • Emyd Y. Salinas

    Emyd Y. Salinas

    As Jadad and O’Grady
    had said, the “health is like beauty in the eyes of the beholder”. Completely
    agreed, health is a special gift you are in charge to tend through your life circle.
    Otherwise health could be defined as a homeostasis level, in which all the
    organics and psychological components that build a human being are in balance
    with nature, social environment, intake habits, physical wellbeing and consciousness
    spiritual state of mind. Balance reefer to an equilibrium with all the surroundings
    that a person could be influenced, when balance it’s lost wellbeing it is
    affected. As we are made of different kind of components, mental, physical and
    spiritual must be in harmony for sustain a quality life.

  • Amanda Vargas

    The definition of health given by the World Health Organization is a
    comprehensive one requiring many sectors of society involved, not
    just health care providers, making not achievable the goals planned
    for 2015. The degree of health vary from country to country because,
    unfortunately, do not have equality in resources. Adding a social component to the
    definition of health makes it even more complex than already is.
    Trying to unify the perception of what health should be is difficult,
    so I think is unrealistic. Would be necessary to standardize,
    somehow, the procedures of providing medical services or have a
    guideline that indicates whether you meet the health requirements stablish by the definition.
    Also, is imperative to increase prevention programs and adherence to
    therapy.

  • gladys

    I would define health as a state of wellbeing that a person is not only physically but also emotionally healthy. The word health is such a broad term that it could include a lot of areas in the health that contribute to a good health. Health I consider begins with what we eat and how one cares for its body. In my opinion a healthy individual should exercise, eat healthy, and drink enough water to hydrate the body. A healthy individual should also be at his/her optimal mental health state. Prevention is key to good health.

  • Hector Rivera Gonzalez

    Héctor Rivera González

    I agree with the WHO
    definition that health is not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. However I would improve the definition by adding
    the following; health: “a state of a group of behaviors that lead to a
    complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of
    disease or infirmity”. I would add this because behavior
    is the range of actions that support the
    environment to reach well-being and improve health.

  • aa1553

    aa1553

    Definition of health

    I have known the WHO definition for health for a long time
    but it had not really occured to me how broad and highly ambitious it is until
    I read this article. To me I think that health can only be defined on the
    individual level and depend on many factors. What may not seem healthy to one
    person may mean nothing to the other. This is primarily based on origin of the
    person as well as other factors like economy and religion just to mention a
    few.

    In my opinion health is a term that cannot be define to suit
    all people or it simply cannot be generalised. It is up to individuals to
    assess themselvess to see whether they are actually healthy or not.

    Lastly considering the WHO definition of health then, who
    will be healthy on this earth? Hardly do you meet people with
    “complete” physical, mental, and social well being. however most
    people believe that they are health. So this brings back my point that the
    definition of health is a individual matter and cannot be generalised as done
    by so many literatures

  • Pharmacy student

    In my opinion, definition of health given by WHO is correct only up to certain extent. That includes the well being of physical, mental and social life. But it should be extended and more specific with regarding to different stages of life that is age of human and spiritual health should also be covered.

    On the other side, definition of health could include the piece of mind and satisfaction with needs of life.

  • Pharmacy Student

    I
    personally do not agree with the World Health Organization’s definition of the
    word Health as, “a state of complete physical, mental and social
    well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. I do not
    agree for a few reasons, one of which is that each individual has a different description
    of well-being. For example, Person A might be above average weight and have
    only two friends and Person B might have an excellent body mass index and have
    20+ friends. Comparing Person A to Person B, it might seem that Person B has a
    better health since their weight is ideal and has an adequate social life. Now
    looking at the Persons as individuals, in their own opinion, they may think themselves
    as healthy considering WHO’s definition of health. I also do not agree with
    this definition of health because it only takes into account one side of
    health, the good side whereas health in reality has two sides, good and bad. I
    would define health as a level of efficiency of a being, where efficiency maybe
    good or bad, just like how one’s health may be well or not well depending on
    their state of being. For example, a person may have been diagnosed with
    diabetes for ten years and currently taking two drugs to prevent any further
    complications. This person eats a well balanced diet, exercises daily, and
    limits their sugar intake. At the time being, the person would be considered in
    good health, even though they have been living with diabetes, an autoimmune
    disease. All in all, I enjoyed this article as well as the discussion it has
    sprung very much.

  • Chowdary

    I should say,everyone has their own sight.One agrees and another may or may not.As a part of discussion,I have my own opinion on defining “Health”.

    “Health is having a balance between physical,Mental & spiritual activities in accordance with Social life and being lively.”

    Being healthy doesn’t mean being lively.Being lively is more of a like being happy or confident but being able to express it.In these days,how many of us are able to express being healthy humans?Oh…ya we have so many excuses because we are busy with our life style either with family or business ….whatsoever.Healthy being should not be insensitive but be expressive.

    So express and live life in a grateful manner.

  • ATork

    I believe that the definition of health stated by WHO is an inaccurate and outdated definition. Health can not easily be quantified by a standard scale because each patient and person is different. Someone who suffers from diabetes will judge their health differently from someone not afflicted with diabetes. If the person with diabetes manages their blood sugar and insulin levels responsibly, than they may consider themselves as healthy despite living with diabetes. Health relates to each individual’s interpretation, and therefore, no organization or group can define it for everyone.

  • Angelica M Borrero Olan

    Definition of Health
    In my opinion I agree but the WHO definition about health. This definition is in some part complete but there is need of something else. This definition need to be more specific in terms of the physical, social and mental well-being. In terms of all this 3 important factors (social, mental, physical) there are some determinants that impact our health. These important determinants that we should take care about are where we live, environment, our genetics, income, education level and relationships. If there is a balance in all of these determinants and between the factors we will be healthy individuals. Finally health is not only the absence of disease.

  • Shirley Rivera

    In my opinion, I disagree little bit with the definition of WHO, “State of complete, physical, mental and social well being. I would take out the absences of a disease because, if it were for that, nobody us healthy because diseases are in the environment, and everybody has gotten sick and that does not mean nobody is healthy. While the WHO is limiting so much what a healthy person is by having the word “complete” makes much of us unhealthy persons. For me I would also eliminate the word complete form the definition so much people cannot be limited to that word.

  • PharmStudent

    I agree that the definition of Health can be very difficult to state, because health can mean many different things to many different people. I personlly do not limit health to just the presence or lack of disease. I consider health to encompass a person’s emotional and mental well-being as well. Therefore, I agree with WHO “ambitious definition of health” and believe it is the type of health that we should strive for. As a healthcare provider I will not only consider my patients unhealthy when they have a disease but also when I find that they are not functioning to the best of their abilities mentally as well as physically.

  • Rosaura Del Valle

    The definitions of the organizations are not perfect but serve to guide and be an example of what health should be. Although a lot of controversy arises with the definition of WHO I agree with it. The definitions are a lot about perception and interpretation with our own life experiences. Health involves the state of wellbeing physically, mentally and emotionally. And health is important for people to live functionally and socially active.

  • Sana Ahmad

    “Health is a state of complete
    physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or
    infirmity.”

    I think this definition of health provided by the WHO is sufficient for
    general, broad use. Granted according to that definition it is nearly
    impossible to attain that state of being healthy, it does nonetheless cover the
    ideal goal we should all try to achieve.

    However, I believe that the definition
    of being healthy wildly differs from person to person depending on what
    experiences of unhealthiness they have gone through. The type of diseases, or
    sicknesses they’ve experienced will formulate their concept of healthiness; it
    will determine their new standard of their own body’s well being.

    So in reality, if one is looking for an
    absolute definition of the word health, it’s as nearly impossible as the
    definition already provided. Which I suppose is paradoxical in itself thus
    making this discussion moot.

  • Loliet Gonzalez

    Hello, my name is Loliet Gonzalez, and I am a student in the College of Pharmacy at Nova Southeastern University, and I want to give my opinion regarding the definition of health.In my personal opinion and from what I have experienced, Health is a human state of well-being,that includes the physical, mental and social sanity.During this phase there are no diseases or maladies that might affect the state in which the person is in, it is therefore that at this point the human being is considered Healthy.

  • Alexa Vyain

    After reading this blog and many comments, I do not see how one could extract one clear, concrete definition of health that applies to every individual on Earth. It seems that health should be defined as a perception of what people see as their own overall well-being, including physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and environmental components. Obviously, with the WHO’s current definition, almost no one could be considered “healthy” at any given time. For example, one could feel depressed due to the loss of a family-member, but otherwise considered overall “healthy” as deemed by a healthcare professional. Therefore, that person would be considered “unhealthy” according to the WHO definition, even though their numbers may match up to a healthcare professional. This is just one miniscule example of millions that could stem from this discussion.

    “Health” is just a word- a word created by man to define a state of being. However, one word is not enough to define someone’s overall state of being in all of these areas. I do believe it is impossible to define “health” in a way that would every individual or even health-care professional would accept. The meaning of health comprises a level of abstractness and of personal belief that makes it impossible to define in a concrete, black and white manner.

  • applebottom123

    According to
    Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary the meaning of the word “define”
    includes “to determine or identify the essential qualities or meaning
    of,” “to discover and set forth the meaning of,” “to fix or
    mark the limits of,” or “to make distinct, clear, or detailed
    especially in outline.”

    On reading
    many of the comments already posted, it is clear that many agree with WHO’s
    definition but at the same time grapple with the reality that it likely has its
    own limitations as a definition. My interest then evolved to the bigger picture
    of defining health and it’s concerns such as what is it that enables or
    disables us to define what health is. Can we? Who is we? Who can? Should we?
    What are the repercussions?

    To define,
    especially with words, automatically means to limit simply because in drawing a
    line around a concept in trying to include certain things, you are also
    excluding others. This has always been the problem with any definition.

    However, none
    of this should prevent us from starting somewhere and the WHO’s definition is
    in my opinion and outstanding beginning.

  • Zuleyka Rivera

    I agree with the authors, Health is not only be physically good is also be healthy mental and socially. I don’t think that exist an exact and precise definition for Health. I as a student pharmacist of NOVA Southeastern Univesity think that an education in Health is very important. I think that the different sectors of the community must work together to improve and educate the society of a healthy life.

  • Jesus Fernandez

    I have been taught many definitions of health and had a much different idea of what health really was than the definition provided by the WHO. The fact is the WHO’s definition is the most widely excepted and our discrepancies will only lead to miscommunication. Instead of each of us comming up with our own definition of health, I move we embrace all current definitions (Including the WHO’s definition of health), and call anything else by another name.
    Redefining health will be removing an old and assigning a new idea to an existing word. Do we care about the idea/message or do we care about word play? If you think of a phrase that YOU think should be added than start a blog titled: What should we call health + your input/phrase. If some people think that the current definition/idea of health is unattainable than does that make the definition/idea wrong? Landing on the moon was a dream in 1968. 1969 it was a reality. There is nothing wrong with the WHO’s definition of health even if by it, no one is healthy.
    To recap: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
    If we add spiritual well being then that is “health” + “spiritual well being” and we can call that “blessed” not “health.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/Iron.Horse.001 Jesus Fernandez

    I have been taught many definitions of health and had a much different idea of what health really was than the definition provided by the WHO. The fact is the WHO’s definition is the most widely accepted and our personal discrepancies with it will only lead to miscommunication. Instead of each of us comming up with our own definition of health, I move we embrace all current definitions (Including the WHO’s definition of health), and call anything else by another name.

    Redefining health will be removing an old and assigning a new idea to an existing word. Do we care about the idea or do we care about word play? If YOU think of a phrase that YOU think should be added than start a blog titled: What should we call health + your input/phrase.
    If some people think that the current definition or idea of health is unattainable than does that make the definition or idea wrong? Landing on the moon was a dream in 1968. In 1969 it was a reality. There is nothing wrong with the WHO’s definition of health even if by it, no one is healthy.
    To recap:
    “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

    If we add spiritual well being then that is “health” + “spiritual well being” and we can call that “blessed” not “health.”

  • Stepan

    I believe it is difficult to define the term health because it incorporates many aspects of everyday life. Health ranges from physical, social, mental, and overall functional well-being attributes. However, people with controlled diseases and illnesses can still have a healthy lifestyle even though they may not be considered healthy.

  • Student

    Health has different meanings to different people. There can’t really be one true specific definition that will please all. Each person values different things and these values will be ever changing and evolve over time.

  • Athena Donov

    To ask to define “health” is a difficult task because health can mean many different things to many different people. To my understanding health is the over all well-being of a person physically, mentally, and emotionally; and to be healthy in my eyes would be an individual lacking any illnesses or diseases whether they are chronic or acute and can live their live on a day to day basis without any major complications. However depending on your location on globe these definitions may drastically change and have another depth in meaning. To ask for one concrete definition is unacceptable over all.

  • Maricel Vidal-Jorge

    Before I even saw the definition
    of Health from the World Health Organization I had written down the exact same
    definition. I do believe that Health has to be defined as a state of complete
    physical, mental and social well-being. When I think of someone healthy I think
    of them as an all-around capable person. Just because they can function
    properly in society does not merely make them healthy. If the grand majority of
    people were completely healthy then we wouldn’t need Health care. We wouldn’t
    need so many medications, doctors, nurses, psychiatrists and well pharmacists.
    It’s hard to find individuals nowadays that are completely healthy. Me for
    example, I may appear healthy, I’m capable of functioning properly in society
    and yet I suffer from sporadic episodes of low blood sugar so I myself do not
    consider myself healthy. Not even my three year old boy do I consider
    completely healthy. In other words, the human body is fragile and many
    different things can affect it whether environmental or genetic it’s extremely
    hard to find a completely healthy individual. In my opinion, there are only
    healthier people than others. Otherwise, why are we learning about these
    thousands of medications to treat these thousands of conditions?

  • Student Melisa Sellinger

    To definite “complete,” as used in the provided WHO definition of “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmary,” is very subjective. What defines the parameters of “complete physical well-being?” Even a relatively benign condition such as, say, acne vulgaris, is very common and while not life-threatening, is the afflicted person no longer able to fit the definition of “complete physical well-being?” If the condition causes some emotional discomfort to the afflicted person, now they are being affected on the level of “complete mental well-nbeing,” as well, and likely the “social,” dimension as a result. Very few people can say that do not have any type of reduced physical, mental, or social issues, regardless of the intensity of the situation. What about corrective vision wearers, a very large percentage of the population, who have anastural deficit in vision due to physiological reasons? To fit the definition given, a state of idealistic “perfect,” health is essentially unattainable. I don’t believe there is such a conditon of “complete,” health in any form; rather, varying degrees of severity of conditions.

  • Christophe Antonos

    In my opinion it is impossible to come up with a single definition for the word HEALTH since it is a word or topic that is highly subjective. Exactly how rich must one be to be considered rich? well I guess it depends on who you ask. For this very same reason, depending on whom who ask, one’s standards of heath may be to high or to low according to the next person. The chances are that if I was to define the word HEALTHY today as a young adult and was asked the same question again 40 years from now, there will probably be some discrepancy when comparing my answers, since I will most likely lower my standards as I get older.

  • Zaritza Z. Cajigas

    I
    personally think that health is the state in which all of the vital organs work
    in an optimal and functional way in order to fulfill the body’s basic needs. It
    is the absence of any disease or infection that can harm a particular organism.
    When we try to describe a healthy individual, we should look at the
    physiological signs and symptoms as well as their behavior and mental status.

  • Christian Arikape

    I believe that the WHO definition of health is a broad, yet good platform on where our thoughts should be when we measure our state of health. Albeit, that I do not agree with the wording, I do like the simplicity and broad scope that the WHO used to define our state of health. Regardless of technological advances, or the new “social media” era, our state of health is still measured by physical, mental and social well being. With or without the addition of spirituality for some; and possibly the exclusion of social well being to others. I use particular aspects of this definition to exemplify the attitude and judgement I reserve for my own health; 60 years later and still a well stated blueprint for a health standard.

  • Joyce

    In my opinion the WHO health’s definition is ambiguous, starting with the “complete” word in their sentence which can be either a broad or narrow view of what health is. Since, I believe that not even the healthiest person can have a complete state of health. The fact that nowadays we know more about genetic diseases (e.g. diabetes), and individuals carrying the gene for the disease having to prevent the development of the disease, does not make a person in a complete state of health. In another hand, the prevention of diseases has increased among populations. The fact that people consume medication to prevent or lower the risk of a disease makes who healthy? Therefore, I believe the definition of health will indeed depend and varies on the point of view of a person educational level, cultures, traditions, and belief.

  • Matt Student Pharmacist

    I believe health is a very subjective term. One can be in good health or in bad health. Or for someone living with a chronic illness like diabetes Mellitus Type 1 health may have a completely different meaning then for a stereotypical “healthy” individual. Can someone with a chronic disease such as this never be Healthy? Also terms like “mental and social well being” are terms that are very susceptible to ones own interpretation. I believe this is why it is so hard to categorize and define what is health.

  • Brunette T.

    I believe that health is a state of physical, mental and social well-being, the absence of disease and illness. I don’t think the word “complete” in the WHO definition of health is realistic. We will never have enough information of the human body for us to know that every aspect of the body is functioning properly with no defect. Sometimes, manifestations of disease, illness, or body system malfunction aren’t visible until symptoms occur. Health can also be up for interpretation because the evaluation of illness is subjective. Someone may have a defect, but he/she believes that it doesn’t hinder him/her from living life or performing daily activities.

  • Jovanny V.

    Health,

    I disagree with the (WHO), within their definition
    they have included the term “complete”. Whereas I believe health should be
    considered more of a general term that gives value and distinguishes between
    the different states of the human condition.

  • Gladiany Ramos

    The term of health is very complex to define because not
    only comprise the physiological factors of the human being but also integrate
    the emotions and behaviors. Health is not the complete absence of a disease, is
    the state in which an individual has a balance of their body, emotions,
    spirituality and social behaviors. If
    health would mean the absence of disease, that definition would be excluding a
    huge part of the population. In my
    opinion health should be a human right in which everybody can have access, so
    anyone can reach the balance.

  • Sady Castane

    Hello, my name is Sady Castane and I am a pharmacy student at Nova Southeastern University. My definition of health is that it is the well being of an individual physically as well as mentally. In addition of lacking any kind of disease that might affect the human body even though it may be asymptomatic.

  • Jumarys Nieves

    I think the definition of the WHO is quite accurate. However, being humans, we are not perfect. We strive for that state of complete well-being by helping ourselves with medications, therapies and such. In order to achieve health we must find a state that is almost complete and have a physical, mental and social balance. Most of us have some type of equilibrium and can live a normal life. Others don’t have such luck and their lives become very difficult. Each one of us should try to figure out what we can do so we can all live a healthy life.

  • Mekdes Wassie

    Defining health is very important to the society and also for the health care professionals. As a pharmacy student I would like to know what my aim should be in delivering ‘health care’ and this can be inferred from how health is defined.
    The way I see it even though the WHO definition is a good definition especially because it indicates that health is not merely the absence of disease,it is also not comprehensive. it doesn’t clarify what the word ‘complete’ in the phrase ‘complete physical, mental and social well being’ mean. The definition does not state the standards by which we can classify physically, socially and mentally healthy and unhealthy to understand what ‘complete’ health is.
    In my opinion health is a relative term where healthy people in all aspects (physically, mentally and socially and spiritually) according to how healthy is defined in a society guide the standard for defining health. However, putting those standards is guided by scientific discoveries and knowledge, culture, religion, economy, and social aspects within a society.

  • Melissa Santibanez

    “Health” is an abstract term meant to be applied to everyone and to encompass all people simultaneously.
    Health cannot exist without a successfully functioning human being. To successfully function entails the standard “physical, mental, and social” well-being, but these factors are specific to each individual.
    Health cannot be scientifically quantified because its tenets vary between individuals….for as much as healthcare providers strive to standardize health (to make it easier to understand and work with on a daily basis), at its basic logical principles health refers to the individual and as such is a relative and subjective concept. A formulaic definition cannot be applied to health because the only constant factor among all people would be a desire to strive for health. But just that…to strive for THEIR personal definition of healthy living. We as healthcare providers, scientists, researchers, and clinicians can show evidence for some of the measurable components of health (blood pressure less than 120/80, hemoglobin 12-16, fasting blood glucose 70-100mg/dL, etc) , the indicators of good physical health, but not for the whole, “complete” individualized definition of health.

  • pancho1812

    In my
    opinion, the health is the absence of any illness that can reduce the life
    quality. I would not want to strictly include physical limitation, because
    there are many people that are blind, paraplegic, deaf or any other condition,
    but they still living as normal as we do in our daily routine. If you ask to
    some of them how do they feel, the vast majority will tell you that they are
    fine, healthy and have a normal life.

    In the definition of health, we must include
    the term of social behavior; this term needs to be joined together with health
    status of the people. Our social skills can help the health of any individual. Social
    skills could be used as a measure of health. For example, the health care
    professionals use the social skills of the elderly to measure their health. Finally the health could be defined as the
    absence of illness, a state of social, mental and physical well-being.

  • Winel

    Health is related to having well-being and good mental state
    and maintain it. Maintain the body in a balanced state where it can function
    adequately in order to perform natural basic functions for survival. Avoid or
    minimize the impact of negative environmental factors, which result in illness
    or disease. These factors include, but are not limited to biological,
    psychological and social.

    I would say that one result of healthiness is having quality
    of life and by having quality of life you maintain yourself healthy. I know it
    sounds like a riddle, but both things are interrelated and depend one on
    another.

  • winel

    Health is related to having well-being and good mental state
    and maintain it. Maintain the body in a balanced state where it can function
    adequately in order to perform natural basic functions for survival. Avoid or
    minimize the impact of negative environmental factors, which result in illness
    or disease. These factors include, but are not limited to biological,
    psychological and social.

    I would say that one result of healthiness is having quality
    of life and by having quality of life you maintain yourself healthy. I know it
    sounds like a riddle, but both things are interrelated and depend one on
    another.

  • David Harriman

    I would define “health” as “A state of physical and mental well-being.” While vague compared to most other definitions discussed here,
    I believe that the definition of health is relative and the meaning will differ based on one’s culture, background, & personal beliefs in context.

  • jasmin rose jose

    The objective behind the formation of WHO was “the attainment of highest possible level of health by all people. ” The level of health that can be attained by a person depends on many factors like social status, economic background , the geographical and cultural aspects and most importantly the individual’s perspective.

    The term ‘health’ can mean different things to different people. An individual who is physically fit and free from disease cannot be said to be healthy if the person lacks social skills.In another scenario a person may feel healthy and happy even if he/she has a pathological condition or is not mentally balanced.

    Ultimately health is very subjective and it cannot be measured or assessed. It can only be felt by a person . I would conclude by saying: if a person is happy and satisfied in the way his body and mind responds to internal and external environment, he/she is healthy.

  • Doug Joffe

    I
    partially agree and disagree with the WHO definition of health. The
    definition of health will almost always elicit a subjective response from any
    individual about its definition and what they believe it to be. Like the
    WHO I believe that health is the overall mental and physical well-being of an
    individual. This idea seems far-fetched with all the diseases from
    bacteria and viruses that are constantly attacking our immune systems. So
    I like to add on to the definition by saying that health is also the ability to
    survive when given proper nutrition. The
    part I disagree with, a minor detail, is the fact that mental and social states
    are separated because one can argue that social well-being is controlled
    through mental processes and is therefore a part of mental health.

  • Jorge Prado

    I think that the WHO definition of health is very broad. Health is many different things, I think it is finding a middle ground between being physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally fit to deal with society. It is very difficult to achieve complete optimum health in all of those aspects with how many diseases there are out there.

  • Vanessa Acosta NSU

    In my opinion, the WHO’s definition of health is good, yet not broad enough. While their definition does acknowledge that health is not simply the absence of disease, it is not inclusive enough to include all aspects of health. For instance, one may also want to feel healthy spiritually, financially or in their environment. Another key is feeling healthy; a person may overall seem healthy, but perceive themselves otherwise. However, it may be impossible to come up with a perfect all-inclusive definition of health.

  • at804

    The WHO definition of “health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” I think that is a good definition because the term is so broad. I do disagree with the statement because of the word “complete.” I do not think that the goal to have everyone in good health with all 3 of these factors is unattainable and unrealistic. There are so many variables and differences in age, race, gender, ect. that is is hard to define health. I believe to balance and promote all of these factors is true but not in a complete state of health. I believe there are more factors that could define health and different circumstances for everything. I agree with that health is not merely the absence of disease of infirmity of this definition.

  • Maria Orr pharmacy student

    In my opinion, the WHO’s definition of health is correct and it is something to strive for. It’s an “ideal”. Health is the most precious thing we possess, and we must do everything to keep it. Too often we take it for granted, and by the time we realize that it’s gone, it’s too late. We live in the times when a lot of diseases can be prevented by just changing a lifestyle and eating habits. We have the resourses to do so, but unfortunately sometimes it takes much more than a mere decision. Just imagine the world without illnesses, uncurable diseases and stress… Sounds unrealistic, but may be it is the future with it’s new technologies and attitude towards health and life, and the WHO’s definition of 1946 is not that impossible after all?

  • Luis Hernandez

    I think the WHO definition of health is lacking the spiritual component. Without this spiritual aspect, a true state of health cannot be fully achieved. Furthermore, I have an issue with the word “complete” from the WHO definition of health. This is what makes the definition so limiting. A person’s health is subjective to the individual’s perspective. It depends on how he/she feels.

  • Alex SHaw

    I believe health is a state of physical and mental well being. It is more of a personal definition because it involves doing the things that the persons body needs in order to stay in that state of well being. The WHO definition is a great definition but highly unlikely. The fact that it says complete makes the definition even harder for us to obtain because who makes the decision on whether or not the people have complete physical, mental and social well being. Health is differently defined or has different parameters for every individual

  • Elisabeth Labady

    From my point of view, health can be defined as a
    state of well being physically, morally, socially, spiritually, and
    nutritionally. Health does not mean free of diseases. It is more a state of
    mind. If you think you have good health, you will have good health.

    Elisabeth Labady

  • Raquel Caporella

    I agree with the World Health Organization that Health is a “state of complete physical, mental, and social well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. This definition defines the true meaning of health because you could be completely free of sickness but yet your mental status is not healthy. This does not overall exemplify health. It should be a balance of all three aspects. Therefore we as healthcare professionals should we should spread and promote good health in order to prevent deaths and other unwanted disesaes.

  • Brandon Martinez

    I agree with the WHO definition of health. I think being “healthy” is more than just being physically healthy or disease free. Being completely healthy involves physical, social, and mental well-being. I think only when these 3 aspects of a person’s life are in order can they truly be healthy.

  • Jenny Pham

    WHO definition of health is very broad, and I don’t agree with it completely. We don’t always have a complete mental being as we have to deal with many things everyday, and it’s always based on each person’s thought and perspective. However, health is very important to us regardless. It’s the most important obsession we have, and may weight more than gold and money.

  • Trevor Henderson

    The WHO definition of health is a good one, however it needs to be
    refined. Instead of a “complete state” of physical and mental well being
    it should read more like a state of being that makes life comfortable
    and non-debilitating. A complete state of anything is impossible to
    obtain, however being human we always seek for the perfection that’s
    near impossible to obtain.

    “A state of physical, mental, spiritual, and social well being that does
    not interfere with a comfortable and long life.” However even this has
    it’s problems in semantics where the definition of comfortable and long
    can be called into question, but it will still removes the “complete”
    that everyone argues about. But again reaching for a state of health is a
    balance between disease and tolerance.

    Besides if a health organization aimed for less than perfect they’d never strive to be better.

  • Amanda Whitman

    Health is the proliferation of mental and physiological wellbeing. A feeling of happiness is associated with health as well since mental wellness is included in health. Mental wellness can be correlated with social health. However social health is not always parallel with mental health and wellness in our first world society.

  • Zilka Vazquez

    Health can be defined as a state of well being and absence of any disease. For the common people health is just the absence of any disease or illness since we consider our self being in good health when nothing is irritating us. When we have a common cold we refers our self of being sick but when we have stress or depression we don’t refers our self of having any illness. Hence, the broader definition of health can cover both illness and need to be understood by any person.

  • Jonathan Choukroun

    It is true that the concept of health is more theoretical than practical. The definition proposed by WHO is challenging and poses some definite issues as its practical application in real life is close to impossible. Furthermore, the term “complete” could be interpreted as a subjective notion that varies from individual to individual.
    However, as discussed in Socio-behavioral pharmacy class, much of America’s value is based upon the greatest American philosopher of the 19th century, Ralph Waldo Emerson, known for his theory on existential transcendentalism. One of his most iconic citation is “trying to reach the unattained but attainable.” In a way, the definition proposed by WHO may pose some issues in regards to its feasibility, however, it does align itself with the Emersonian principles on which America is founded. “The unattained” may seem impossible to reach but it is nevertheless worth trying.

  • AnnetteL

    I believe that the definition of health
    from the WHO that they have discussed in this article is relevant and accurate.
    But also in my opinion there is no one-way to define health. It can be how a
    person is feeling or how they can be more or less susceptible to getting sick.
    Being a healthy person to someone can mean that they might not get sick as
    often as others but will occasionally become ill. They will never have complete
    well-being. I do believe that health is your state of well being- mentally,
    physically, socially and spiritually. I add spiritually because there can be
    people that have a disease but yet their spirituality can help them recover
    from any kind of illness. And I think that is important in anyone’s health.

  • Gazal Harwani

    I agree with the WHO definition of health as the state of physical and mental well being. However, the definition is very narrow in the sense that it just demonstrates the state of good well being. According to me, health includes both the good and bad aspects of the person’s status. Health also takes into account social status, work status and other social/cultural aspects.

  • Gazal

    I agree with the WHO definition of health being “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. It takes into account all the aspects that would affect the well being of a patient. Physical well being is how the person appears outside. Mental well being is the state of mind that a person goes through and that affects his/her health. Social aspects affect health too, i.e, whether the person has employment or not, and how does all that affect the person’s well being.

  • Juan R. Rivera-Pacheco

    In my opinion, the definition of health
    given by the WHO is not perfect. If we go through all the components of the
    definition we will see that certain parts are accurate, but others are
    overrated. When we talk about physical well-being and absence of illness, the
    definition is pretty accurate. In the other hand, because every person is
    different, some people may have some behaviors that they consider normal but
    for other person is wrong. Also, not every person feels comfortable socializing
    and, in my opinion, that doesn’t makes him an unhealthy person, because it
    depends on how the person feels, the environment in which was raised, and the
    education that was received.

  • R Rodriguez

    Health could be better defined as Wellness then it implies to be considered as an active process of learn how to make decisions that guide in the direction of a longer and more successful existence. The process has to be conscious.

  • Rajatkumar

    The word “Health” is not just a term but involves different aspects of one’s well being. Health not only involves the state of well being but also looks at the negatives of the state of well being. I see a person being healthy when he is free from physical, mental and social stress. Culture and Society also affect a person state of well being. It also involves how a person interacts with his/her environment.

  • Maria Leon – PharmD student.

    In my opinion the meaning of health will be increasingly more complex as time passes while we have more knowledge about health, its meaning will be greater. Health should be ruled by the quality of life of the individual, not their illness. people through knowledge will gain a better quality of life, not its meaning in health, that means that any developments in health give a new meaning, but also improve the quality of life of people!!!

  • Desai

    To me the WHO definition of health is absolutely perfect, even though it may indicate that none of us are healthy, if we include physical, mental and social factors. We should also include modern world factors like technology in the definition too, because believe me or not, sitting too much on laptops, playing video games all day long, and calling 24/7 people on their cell phones makes us unhealthy. Modern world is WIRED. Its a recipe for disaster and unhealthiness. Childhood obesity. Guess where I am going!

  • scasab

    Is this conversation still going on?

  • OrtizRx

    Health is defined by the WHO as a state of complete
    physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. This definition of health as mentioned in the article, “is a ludicrous definition that would leave most of us unhealthy most of the time,” which is a statement I can agree with. As humans, we are not perfect and most of us will never be 100% healthy as stated in the article as none of us will always be physically fit, mentally cognitive with over all well-being, although it would be ideal. But in reality, we are opportunistic people that are always on the run, trying to squeeze activities or chores out of every second in our lives that we aren’t able to accomplish the necessary things we need to stay healthy.

    Most Americans live hectic, stressful lives and the combination of how we live, eat, and lack of free time can have significant impact on our health.

    So my definition of health is as follows:

    An individual is healthy when he can actively function in society, without debilitating illness. This broad definition includes mostly
    everyone in society while excluding the individuals that are truly ill
    (unhealthy).

  • Fisayo Ogundele

    The WHO at it’s inception in 1948 defined health as the
    state of “complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence
    of disease or infirmity”. In doing so they not only placed a very broad
    interpretation on the word “health”, but also placed an elusive and
    unattainable goal on the countries, governments and organizations obliged to
    try to uphold it.

    As well-intentioned and optimistic as that definition may
    be, it’s almost naive at it’s core because it places objectivity and bounds of specificity,
    on a subjective and abstract idea.

    It’s like defining “cold” as being the point at which water
    freezes, but failing to recognize that there are other fluids with different
    freezing points and to impose water’s freezing point as the default, standard
    as to when all liquids are “cold” would be ignorant. So also to define health,
    a personal and subjective, in such a broad and general sense is to ignore what health may mean for other people.

    For health to be defined, it must be considered from the
    perspective of everyone to whom the definition will be applied. To me, health
    may mean being able to run up and down a flight of stairs without passing out whereas,
    my 94 year old grandmother may define health as being able to walk without a
    cane.

    For health to be defined as complete physical, mental and social well-being is far reaching because who’s to say what complete physical, mental and social well-being is? Even to call health the absence of disease or infirmity is extremely broad and would exclude a huge proportion of people. Many of the disease encountered today are chronic diseases for which there is no cure, merely control such as HIV, Diabetes Mellitus, Chronic Kidney Disease, to name a few. For patients of these conditions, being “healthy” by that
    definition would never be attainable. But they can be asymptomatic,
    well-controlled, and maintain good quality of lives as therapy progresses.

    For individuals such as this and many more people, health
    can be viewed as the ability to maintain an enjoyable quality of life with
    minimal obstruction from diseases and infirmities.

  • MDNSU_Rx

    Physical, mental and social well being is affected by our environment, foods, exercise, social interactions and many other factors. I believe that the definition of health is incomplete and does not apply equally to all parts of the world. I believe that spirituality should be included in the definition as well. Last year there was a study published in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse explaining how urban Native American youth who follow American Indian traditional spiritual beliefs are less likely to use drugs and alcohol. (1) This example is an indirect approach to positively improve the physical, mental and social well being. In another example, the Seventh Day Adventists have been shown to liver longer, approximately 5 to 10 years.(2) Furthermore, in Okinawa Japan, people have the longest life expectancy and the longest health expectancy in the world.
    In addition to emphasis on healthy food, regular exercise, they also focus greatly on observing religious rituals. They have a rich history of spirituality with a mixture of Taoism, Confucianism and native spirituality. In last 20 years with the invention of new pharmaceuticals and medical technology we have seen increases in life expectancy in both men and women. For example, baby boomers have been considered the healthiest generation because of their life expectancy. However, in article published by JAMA Internal Med in Feb 2013 that may no longer be true since we are seeing this population present with increased levels of certain medical conditions than the previous generation. I think there should be less focus on prolonging the life expectancy but rather focusing on improving the quality of life. I
    think that spirituality can enhance overall health regardless of a person’s faith.

    1. American Sociological Association (ASA). “Native American spiritual beliefs influential in spurring youth to avoid drugs and alcohol.” ScienceDaily, 20 Aug. 2012. Web. 13 Mar. 2013.

    2.Fraser GE, Shavlik DJ. Ten Years of Life: Is It a Matter of Choice?. Arch Intern Med. 2001;161(13):1645-1652. doi:10.1001/archinte.161.13.1645.

    3. Cockerham WC, Yamori Y. Okinawa: an exception to the social gradient of life expectancy in Japan. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2001;10(2):154-8.

    4. King DE, Matheson E, Chirina S, Shankar A, Broman-Fulks J. The Status of Baby Boomers’ Health in the United States: The Healthiest Generation?. JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(5):385-386. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.2006.

  • Franchesca NSU

    Health is balance. There
    will always be a negative to counteract the positive. The negative is always
    present but as long as it does not overpower the positive we are in equilibrium.
    This is why I believe that health is “not merely the absence of disease or
    infirmity.” “Physical, mental and social
    well-being” also plays a role and although you do not have to be in a complete
    state of well-being, there has to be a balance amongst the three. However, as
    much as I’d like to define that health is balance, the article suggests that
    attempting to define health “is futile,” and in the end, “we might need to
    accept that all we can do is to frame the concept of health through the
    services that society can afford, and modulate.” This statement is true and may be the reason
    why society puts a lot of emphasis on physical well-being. The state of mental and social well-being is
    often overlooked because physical well-being is what costs society the most.

  • Barry

    The idea of seeking global input on a definition of health is a very good idea. “Health”, as a word, can be have very individual meanings. For example, a person in chronic pain for decades may define health more in terms of pain abatement, rather than absence.

  • FrancesColon NSU

    Health is a subjective state of wellbeing, for example, a person may feel healthy, however, can be suffering silently from a disease, in the other hand, a person may feel ill (physically, mentally, or spiritually) and have no evidence or proof of being in a diseased state. Health involves physical, mental and spiritual well being,however it also involves state of mind, motivation, and quality of life.

  • J. Srebro

    “Health” is not a word that can be concretely defined. It is an extremely broad, abstract concept that is reinforced by its many different types of specialties that are utilized in the healthcare profession due to the need to categorize the unlimited branching
    off that is involved in the attempt to identify a definitive description of the definition of health. This is represented by the different types of health that an individual can or cannot possess, such as mental, prenatal, geriatric, pediatric, neurological, as well as many other specialties. This necessity to separate different types of health specialties is indicative of the fact that there is no correct or incorrect definition of health. It is dependent upon the individual, dependent upon the person defining it, and this can vary greatly. Some would agree with the WHO and its definition of health: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” However, after reading the article How should health be defined? and the comments posted on this blog, it is clear that it has always been difficult for people to reach an agreement on what the meaning of health really is, and this does not appear to be changing.

  • Thaovy Nguyen

    Health includes the wellbeing and limitations of an individual due to illnesses that he or she may have. I do not think that health can be easily defined. It really depends on who is the person defining health. For instance, for me to be healthy is to be without stress and able to actively engage in any sports and activities that I like without limitations. However, for another person, to be healthy is to be able to walk without pain or run without an asthma attack. I simply believe that health can be defined in many ways and there are no right definitions for it.

  • Michelle Frania

    The word “health” stresses the absence of disease and implies energy, strength, and well-being, while the word “happiness” implies the absence of pain, depression, anxiety or negative emotions. Both “healthy” and “happy” are very vague terms, and each individual may interpret what they believe healthy and happy to be as it relates to themselves in completely different ways. I personally believe that you can’t have one without the other, and that the mind and body are very deeply interconnected with each other and with the soul or spirit. To me, awareness is the key to achieving healthiness and happiness; one must first start by tuning in and listening to their body and their mind. By simply observing the way that we feel physically and emotionally we are listening to our body tell us what it needs. Then we can take action and research the necessary steps to find out what works for us to heal or to just “feel good” in general. That may include going to the doctor, eating better, exercising, etc. Once we are in tune with our bodies and minds and we take the steps to achieve what we consider to be health or happiness, it is important then to connect with the spiritual aspect and be grateful (to God, the universe, mother earth, etc., etc.) in order to maintain this positive and balanced state. It’s very important to remember that being happy and healthy are active processes. They won’t just fall in our laps and genetics can only take us so far; at some point we need to actively go out and seek what we need to do to achieve both. There is one book that completely changed the way I think about health, and I highly recommend it: “Quantum Healing: Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine” by Deepak Chopra, M.D.

  • Nowrin Alam

    The WHO defined health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” While I agree with this definition of health to an extent, I also think it is impossible to come to one definition of health that is universally agreed upon. My definition of health also includes how I feel whether or not there is some diagnostic test to validate it. Sometimes one can be perfectly healthy according to all the tests, but there is an instinct that something is wrong and I wouldn’t consider that to be a healthy person. Also, how we define what is healthy and what is acceptable is different from person to person. Everyone has a different perception of what is normal and our standards of what equates to good health are each measured subjectively. It is hard to take something as abstract as health and come up with a single definition. No one definition of health is correct or incorrect, it just varies person to person. Collectively, we can all agree that health is important to us and we want to be healthy. But what health means to each of us is very subjective.

  • Ada Jalice

    While the World Health Organization’s current definition of health aims to cover various dimensions of overall well-being, I feel that a more holistic approach to the term “health” is appropriate. In addition to physical, mental, and social components, health
    involves spiritual and economic elements and is influenced by multiple other factors, including income, educational level, genetic makeup, and environmental and living conditions.

    It is important to note that going solely by the World Health Organization’s definition of health would mean that many individuals are healthy in some aspects but not in others; for instance, someone may be physically ill or disabled while maintaining his or her mental and social functions intact. Instead, health should be viewed on a
    continuum where individuals must balance internal and external influences to meet their needs, interact with the environment, and attain optimal functioning while preserving their quality of life and peace of mind. From this overarching perspective, health can be seen as a dynamic, multifaceted process rather than as a black and white distinction between illness and wellness.

    Furthermore, one must keep in mind that personal lifestyle choices regarding nutrition, exercise, personal hygiene, smoking, and substance abuse can tremendously impact individuals’
    overall health and the prevention of illnesses. As a result, health is relative to each person and what counts as healthy to some may be the picture of unhealthy to others. Once one appreciates the broadness of the term “health,” one can understand why the word is especially hard to define. Health cannot be measured solely through life expectancy, mortality, and morbidity statistics; it is a much more personal term that involves each individual’s state of mind and can influence his or her ability to communicate, formulate goals, and
    navigate through life’s experiences and challenges.

  • Guest

    While the World Health Organization’s current definition of health aims to cover various dimensions of overall well-being, I feel that a more holistic approach to the term “health” is appropriate. In addition to physical, mental, and social components, health
involves
    spiritual and economic elements and is influenced by multiple
    other factors, including income, educational level, genetic makeup, and environmental and living conditions.

    

It is important to note that going solely by the World Health Organization’s definition of health would mean that many
    individuals are healthy in some aspects but not in others; for instance, someone may be physically ill or disabled while maintaining his or her mental and social functions intact. Instead, health should be viewed on a 
continuum where individuals must balance internal and external influences to meet their needs, interact with the environment, and attain optimal functioning while preserving their quality of life and peace of mind. From
    this overarching perspective, health can be seen as a dynamic,
    multifaceted process rather than as a black and white distinction between illness and wellness. 



    Furthermore, one must keep in mind that personal
    lifestyle choices regarding nutrition, exercise, personal hygiene, smoking, and substance abuse can tremendously impact individuals’
overall health and the prevention of illnesses. As a result, health is relative to each person and what counts as healthy to some may be the picture of unhealthy to others. Once one appreciates the broadness of the term “health,” one can
    understand why the word is especially hard to define. Health cannot
    be measured solely through life expectancy, mortality, and morbidity
    statistics; it is a much more personal term that involves each individual’s state of mind and can influence his or her ability to communicate, formulate goals, and
navigate through life’s experiences and challenges.

  • ChinarPatel NSU

    I agree with the WHO’s definition of health. Health is “a state of physical, mental and social well-being”. This definition covers the major aspects of an individuals life that are necessary to keep him in his best state. Even if one of these states is altered, it readily effects the other two. Although, I do believe that this definition is being generalized. The concept of being healthy is different as per the individual and hence, no definition will be universally applicable to every individual. The approach that WHO has taken, does cover the most important parts because as long as the internal and external states are balanced, there is a good chance that the patient will be stress free and happy causing the patient to be at the peak of his well-being.

  • ChinarPatel NSU

    I agree with the WHO’s definition of health. Health is “a state of physical, mental and social well-being”. This definition covers the major aspects of an individuals life that are necessary to keep him in his best state. Even if one of these states is altered, it readily effects the other two. Although, I do believe that this definition is being generalized. The concept of being healthy is different as per the individual and hence, no definition will be universally applicable to every individual. The approach that WHO has taken, does cover the most important parts because as long as the internal and external states are balanced, there is a good chance that the patient will be stress free and happy causing the patient to be at the peak of his well-being.

  • Pooja

    I agree with the WHO definition of health being “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. It does look at and take into account all the aspects that would affect the well being of a patient. The physical well being determines how the person appears from the outside. Mental well being is the state of mind that a person goes through whether it be positive or negative but that does affect their health in a good or bad way. Social aspects also play a factor in well being, whether they are employed, having problems with family and friends. Being free from physical,mental and social stress is what makes a person healthy instead of simply being disease free.

  • AK NOVA

    The definition of health is not cut and dry. Each individual has their own approach on what health truly means. There are even those who are ill that consider themselves still fairly “healthy”. I believe that health is a state of mind when a person is at peace, what I mean is that there is no mental, physical, or spiritual imbalance. An example could be an individual that is diagnosed with a terminal condition but their attitude and behaviors still allow them to move forward even though their body is giving up. The sick role is basically accepted and balance can be obtained through change of value, behavior, and attitudes. In a sense, health could truly never be defined because each individual as mentioned before has their own way of expressing health as a subject or condition.

  • Jessica Greer

    Although it may seem like a simple task, developing an accurate and conclusive definition of health is quiet challenging. In my opinion, being in good health is not achieved by simply staying
    out of a doctor’s office or a hospital bed; it is multifaceted and made up of several components, all of equal importance. Those include physical health, mental health, emotional health, social health, environmental health, and spiritual health. The way I think of it is health is a pie made up of all its unique slice/parts, in proportional equivalence and in its entirety; the above factors are the pieces that make it up. Therefore, although a person may have fine physical and mental health, if and/or when they struggle with personal issues, the results impact the remaining components. A lot of where I feel health stems from is personal satisfaction. Regardless of your vital signs or cholesterol level, if a person is not happy with himself or herself, they will never truly achieve “health”; I guess what I am saying is that since social well-being is included in their definition of health, it now becomes a term that is relative and unique to each individual and/or the stage of life they are in.

  • Ana Vega

    Health is an abstract concept relative to each person. The WHO’s 1948 definition of health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” is a rather vague one that seems to summarize an ideal
    more than actually define health as a concrete concept. As partially recognized by Jadad and O’Grady’s article, two problems with the WHO’s definition of health are the use of the words “complete” and “well-being”. The problem lies in that these terms are not discrete but instead exist on a continuum. To illustrate, a person with a congenital deformity of the lower limbs may otherwise feel
    completely healthy but because of his or her deformity, they may not be considered “completely” physically healthy according to this definition. Unlike many other bloggers, I do believe that a definition of health is necessary. Although it is a valid point that language is often used to reflect power differences amongst people and the interests of only certain groups in society, this does not signify that a definition of health can be done without. Our definition of health propels us to seek healthcare services and in many ways,
    shapes the state of the healthcare industry in our country by shaping the public’s perceptions on what it means to have well-being. However, because being healthy is so relative to each person, I believe it is impossible to come up with a concrete definition that can be universally applicable to everyone at every point in time. In my opinion, one useful definition of health would be an overall state of efficient mental and physical functioning, which do not deter a person from their normal day-to-day activities. Although definitely not an all encompassing or flawless definition, I believe it has an advantage over the WHO’s definition in its broadness. For example, this definition would allow people with minor pains or chronic controlled conditions, such as diabetes, to still be considered healthy in a general sense.

  • Yenisel Avila

    There is no “one
    size fits all” definition of health because words and definitions are created
    by different people with different cultures and motivations. It is impossible to
    establish a definition that is shared by all people of the world. In my opinion,
    the definition of health provided by the World Health Organization is more of a
    quintessential ideal than a practical concept. To assert that “Health is a state
    of complete physical, mental and
    social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” leads to
    believe that no one is healthy. It is improbable that any given person at any
    given time is in a “complete” state because our human existence is invariably full
    of unpleasant experiences and situations. Instead, a more appropriate definition
    of health would describe it as a dynamic, ongoing process that takes into account
    the totality of our existence, from the physical to the spiritual. Health is multifaceted
    and should not be depicted linearly because life itself is not constant. A person may not be perceived as completely healthy
    in all three aspects at a precise moment because a healthy, normal life is more
    of a balancing act than a monochrome process. That is not to say the person is “unhealthy”;
    it is just normal for humans to feel incomplete. It is the basis of why we
    strive to better our relationships, our physical health through exercise, and
    our mental health through enriching activities. However, modern medicine, in an
    effort to objectify matters of health to measure outcomes, often steers people
    away from their respective views on health and either over or underestimates
    what health should be.

  • Yenisel Avila

    There is no “one
    size fits all” definition of health because words and definitions are created by different people with different cultures and motivations. It is impossible to establish a definition that is shared by all people of the world. In my opinion, the definition of health provided by the World Health Organization is more of a quintessential ideal than a practical concept. To assert that “Health is a stateof complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” leads to believe that very few people are healthy. It is improbable that any given person at any given time is in a “complete” state because our human existence is invariably full
    of unpleasant experiences and situations. Instead, a more appropriate definition of health would describe it as a dynamic, ongoing process that takes into account the totality of our existence, from the physical to the spiritual. Health is multifaceted
    and should not be depicted linearly because life itself is not constant. A person may not be perceived as completely healthy
    in all three aspects at a precise moment because a healthy, normal life is more of a balancing act than a monochrome process. That is not to say the person is “unhealthy”;it is just normal for humans to feel incomplete. It is the basis of why we strive to better our relationships, our physical health through exercise, and our mental health through enriching activities. However, modern medicine, in an effort to objectify matters of health to measure outcomes, often steers people away from their respective views on health and either over or underestimates
    what health should be.

  • Yenisel Avila

    There is no “one size fits all” definition of health because words and definitions are created by different people with different cultures and experiences. It is impossible to establish a definition that is shared by all people of the world. In my opinion,the definition of health provided by the World Health Organization is more of a quintessential ideal than a practical concept. To assert that “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” leads to believe that very few people are healthy. It is improbable that any given person at any given time is in a “complete” state because our human existence is invariably full of unpleasant experiences and situations. Instead, a more appropriate definition of health would describe it as a dynamic, ongoing process that takes into account the totality of our existence, from the physical to the spiritual. Health is multifacetedand should not be depicted linearly because life itself is not constant. A person may not be perceived as completely healthy in all three aspects at a precise moment because a healthy, normal life is more of a balancing act than a monochrome process. That is not to say the person is “unhealthy”; it is just normal for humans to feel incomplete. It is the basis of why we strive to better our relationships, our physical health through exercise, and our mental health through enriching activities. However, modern medicine, in an effort to objectify matters of health to measure outcomes, often steers people away from their respective views on health and either over or underestimates what health should be.

  • Joseph Bae

    It is difficult for me to define the meaning of health in one simple sentence. The World Health Organization defined it as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. I agree with the definition but it cannot be so easily defined; thus, this global sharing of ideas of how different people define health gives an insightful approach. Health is not an absolute state of well-being but a state in which indisposition is forestalled. It should include all aspects of well-being which was mentioned by the WHO- physical, mental and social well-being. Health is such a broad term as it stretches beyond the clinical scales of measurement: happiness may also be a characteristic value that should be considered in health.

  • jodygrossman

    A traditional toast states “Be happy, be healthy, long life!” To have genuine good health, one must be happy to live and experience another day. Good health is a symbiotic interplay of
    variables, each with both mental and physical attributes. Mental happiness improves mental health and good mental health is evidenced by emotional peace and well-being. Health and happiness are much intertwined and can be destroyed by several factors, including social bullying, lack of confidence and low self-esteem, financial instability, family instability, and biological instability. Those that are adaptable or are immune to outside destructive influences can stay on the path to good health and
    happiness. Biological health is a physical health that includes both functional and metabolic efficiency. A decline in functional health can lead to a spiraling downturn of mental sadness, followed by a decline in mental health and then a decline in biological efficiency. However, with emotional support, the
    destructive forces of declining functional health, such as blindness, deafness, or paralysis can be triumphed over with retraining and adaptation. Those who can overcome functional loss and maintain a positive mental outlook can live healthy and long lives. A sudden, acute and severe decline in metabolic efficiency will outweigh all other variables and life will no longer
    be sustainable, despite a positive mental health. The chronic decline of metabolic efficiency can lead to deterioration of mental happiness and mental health. Conversely, a decline in mental happiness and mental health can cause deterioration in metabolic efficiency. Together, happiness and good metabolic efficiency are the variables to sustain good health. Good health is the backbone to long life and without good health, that backbone deteriorates and in time, life can no longer exist.

  • jodygrossman

    A traditional toast states “Be happy, be healthy, long life!” To have genuine good health, one must be happy to live and experience another day. Good health is a symbiotic interplay of variables, each with both mental and physical attributes. Mental happiness improves mental health and good mental health is evidenced by emotional peace and well-being. Health and happiness are much intertwined and can be destroyed by several factors, including social bullying, lack of confidence and low self-esteem, financial instability, family instability, and biological instability. Those that are adaptable or are immune to outside destructive influences can stay on the path to good health and happiness. Biological health is a physical health that includes both functional and metabolic efficiency. A decline in functional health can lead to a spiraling downturn of mental sadness, followed by a decline in mental health and then a decline in biological efficiency. However, with emotional support, the destructive forces of declining functional health, such as blindness, deafness, or paralysis can be triumphed over with retraining and adaptation. Those who can overcome functional loss and maintain a positive mental outlook can live healthy and long lives. A sudden, acute and severe decline in metabolic efficiency will outweigh all other variables and life will no longer be sustainable, despite a positive mental health. The chronic decline of metabolic efficiency can lead to deterioration of mental happiness and mental health. Conversely, a decline in mental happiness and mental health can cause deterioration in metabolic efficiency. Together, happiness and good metabolic efficiency are the variables to sustain good health. Good health is the backbone to long life and without good health, that backbone deteriorates and in time, life can no longer exist.

  • jodygrossman

    A traditional toast states “Be happy, be healthy, long life!” To have genuine good health, one must be happy to live and experience another day. Good health is a symbiotic interplay of variables, each with both mental and physical attributes. Mental happiness improves mental health and good mental health is evidenced by emotional peace and well-being. Health and happiness are much intertwined and can be destroyed by several factors, including social bullying, lack of confidence and low self-esteem, financial instability, family instability, and biological instability. Those that are adaptable or are immune to outside destructive influences can stay on the path to good health and happiness. Biological health is a physical health that includes both functional and metabolic efficiency. A decline in functional health can lead to a spiraling downturn of mental sadness, followed by a decline in mental health and then a decline in biological efficiency. However, with emotional support, the destructive forces of declining functional health, such as blindness, deafness, or paralysis can be triumphed over with retraining and adaptation. Those who can overcome functional loss and maintain a positive mental outlook can live healthy and long lives. A sudden, acute and severe decline in metabolic efficiency will outweigh all other variables and life will no longer be sustainable, despite a positive mental health. The chronic decline of metabolic efficiency can lead to deterioration of mental happiness and mental health. Conversely, a decline in mental happiness and mental health can cause deterioration in metabolic efficiency. Together, happiness and good metabolic efficiency are the variables to sustain good health. Good health is the backbone to long life and without good health, that backbone deteriorates and in time, life can no longer exist.

  • ahlam_85

    Health is defined by the WHO as a complete physical, mental
    and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

    In my opinion, I totally disagree with the word complete and
    it could be better to substitute this word with balance between these three
    factors.

    WHO definition is absolutely impossible and it means that
    all people around the world is unhealthy and this is untrue.

    So health is better defined as balance between disease,
    mental and social well-being that result in a good quality of life.

  • Nilam Patel

    In the article the, WHO defines “Health” as state of mental
    and social well-being. I do not think it’s a great definition of health. Being completely healthy is next to impossible since the definition takes into consideration physical, mental and social component. One might be physically healthy, but might be suffering from mental disease. This is also true, vice versa; one might have mental/psychological disease/condition but be physically healthy. I
    think that this definition is different from one person to another. Many people do things that are considered abnormal behavior according to me, and they probably think that about me as well. Also, there are many people who are not comfortable socializing and I think that is normal, and there are people who are very outgoing, but neither of these is “unhealthy” or “healthy”.

  • Mink Lertworasiri

    I disagree with health definition from WHO, which is
    “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not
    merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. This definition leading to
    misunderstanding of health because health can be only “state of complete
    physical, mental and social well-being” without the part of “absence of disease”.
    The reason is that health can be mean to people who have minor disease but
    still maintain this complete physical, mental and social well-being. It should be mean something like “ General condition of human’s mind and body”.
    This would allow this definition to be define in much more detail such as “general
    condition of human’s mind and body that free from disease, pain, and injury”
    this can be called the definition of good health.

  • NSU_GoSharks

    WHO defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Having a healthy lifestyle not only means living longer but also to have better and productive life. Though WHO’s definition seems unrealistic to achieve, it does set a standard for achieving the optimum results. Will humans ever reach this optimum state of health? I do not see it happening in our life time. I think we should not take this definition and dissect it word by word, but understand what it is trying to convey. As Americans, we tend to focus more on physical well-being, and ignore mental and social aspects of our life. But, I believe having a sound mind as well as having a healthy social lifestyle is equally or even more important than being in a great physical shape. If we address our physical, mental and social lifestyles, we could reduce or eliminate a lot of diseases.

  • Anh Bui

    The World Health
    Organization (WHO) defined health as “a state of complete physical, mental
    and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.
    One of the problems being challenged here is whether we can reach a common ground
    to agree on the “completeness” of health around the world? According
    to the author, the answer is no. Health is defined by multiple
    “complex” social determinants that most of the time we don’t have
    control on. However, he forgot to mention about one very important determinant
    of health that is universal around the world: dietary lifestyle. Unfortunately,
    the diet factor tends to be one of the most easily overlooked factors by
    clinicians when treating their patients. In the US, for example, traditionally
    trained allopathic physicians have been educated and used to the mindset of
    employing drug therapy to cure specific disease-related symptoms based on their
    differential diagnoses. Although I agree that we should not completely disprove
    the therapeutic benefits of western medicines, these days the number of
    drug-induced diseases due to adverse drug reactions is also very staggering. In
    general, drugs are considered inherently and unavoidably unsafe and therefore
    should only be used when all of the other alternative therapies have been
    exhausted. Interestingly, there have been multiple studies showing that many of
    the so-called “chronic illnesses”, such as diabetes or heart
    diseases, can be reversed simply by switching to an organic plant-based diet.
    In fact, the consumption of meat and animal products pose more of a problem
    than just cancer, stroke, or any other negative health consequences. The meat
    industries also put a heavy toll on our environment and ultimately affecting
    the well-beings of people all around the world. The evidences are there,
    whether we like it or not. And yes, unlike the author, personally I believe
    that it is possible to reach a basic level of agreement on the meaning of the
    word “health”, that is, health should be defined as the adherence to
    a meat-free vegetarian diet. Ultimately, not only can a complete plant-based
    diet help pushing our health into a more favorable direction, it will also
    mitigate all of the negative impacts of the meat industries on the environment,
    from which the very fundamental aspect of our health is based on.

  • Joseph Sodoro

    My definition of health has evolved significantly through my experiences throughout nursing school, pharmacy school, and as a hospice volunteer. I have learned over time that health is a highly abstract concept with much more of a subjective nature rather than objective nature. I have come across patients who have been struck by disease but have maintained a higher degree of mental and physical wellness compared to individuals who are absent of disease but have a diminished sense of well-being. Disease status is not indicative of health status, and health is almost something that can be placed in a realm of its own. Society has instilled into us that once you are diagnosed with a disease you are deemed “unhealthy”, but I have realized that in some circumstances a person with terminal illness can still be healthy. For example, I had a hospice patients with terminal stage 4 cancer, yet physically they had a high degree of functioning (physically active every day), they had remarkable coping mechanisms, and refused to isolate themselves from society. This patient had such a high degree of subjective wellness that in my opinion they were healthier than some young people who society portrays as being “Healthy”. I have seen body builders and in shape patients who are literally dying on the inside but from an outside perspective one would classify them as healthy. On the other hand, I have seen obese individuals who adopt positive changes in their life and have unbelievable perseverance to achieve an optimal state of health. The point is that health is an extremely complex concept with subjective components, going far beyond what society’s definition has instilled into some of us.

  • Sanycha Rivera

    Health can have a variety of ways to be defined. As a pharmacist
    student I can see how complicated is to define it, because this word involve a lot of important topics. In my opinion, health, in physical terms, is part of the quality of life, well being and happiness. The goal of achieving health, not only corresponds to medicine, but also to society and the individual. In developing countries, health is achieved when they begin to meet their needs for food, infections, housing, employment and, ultimately, its economic problems, while in developed countries, health is achieved by preventing the effects produces by obesity, lack of exercise, smoking, depression, stress, pollution. Health is the maintenance of the body homeostasis and the mental and social equilibrium.

  • LauriannEbanks

    LauriannEbanks 2:15pm October 29, 2013

    Physical health is an essential part of someone’s overall health which includes everything ranging from physical fitness to overall wellness making an individual mechanically fit to carry out his daily activities without any problem. Physical healthconsists of weight control, hygiene, and skin and hair care. To be in mental health, an individual is able to use his or her cognitive and emotional capabilities to function in society and meet the ordinary demands of everyday life. Social health, on the other hand, is how a person gets along with other people. An example of social health is when an individual feels the support offered by being a part of the society/community, causing him to feel the encouragement to better himself through personal growth such as an increased in education or the development of a talent.

    WHO definition of health states , “Health is a state of complete physical, mental andsocial well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” I am not in total agreement with this definition as it would mean that very few people are healthy. The word ‘complete’ is the operative term in this definition. I agree with Yenisel Avila whose blog states that “A person may not be perceived as completely healthy in all three aspects at a precise moment because a healthy, normal life is more of a balancing act than a monochrome process. That is not to say the person is “unhealthy”; it is just normal for humans to feel incomplete.” Therefore, it is not so easy to formulate a definition of health as health in itself is an abstract concept relative to each individual and cannot be concretely defined. But if I’m compelled to give a definition of same I would say health, from my perspective, would mean balancing all the aforementioned, that is, physical, mental and social health including a holistic mindset that involves a spiritual component.

  • Guest

    Health can have a variety of ways to be defined. As a pharmacist
    student I can see how complicated is to define it, because this word involve a
    lot of important topics. In my opinion, health, in physical terms, is part of the
    quality of life, well being and
    happiness. The goal of achieving
    health, not only corresponds
    to medicine, but also to society and the individual. In developing countries,
    health is achieved when they begin to meet their needs
    for food, infections, housing, employment and, ultimately, its economic problems,
    while in developed countries,
    health is achieved by preventing the effects produces by obesity, lack
    of exercise, smoking, depression, stress, pollution.
    Health is the maintenance of the body homeostasis and the mental and social
    equilibrium.

  • Jessica Smith

    The term “health” has always been embedded in my mind as the
    WHO explanation of “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” As a pharmacy student, I have always been taught about health and healthcare using this WHO explanation as the guidelines for study. After reading this BMJ article, my entire idea of what health actually is, has now changed.
    “Health” is not a basic criterion that individuals strive to perfect. The health status of one individual is much different than that of another individual. Therefore, I do not believe that one standard definition can be applicable to all people. If we used this WHO definition of health and applied it to an individual with some sort of genetic disease, we would deem them to be in poor health. However, this individual may be in good health relative to their own self. To anecdotally compare the situations, a particular prescription medication may produce exceptional changes in one person and that same prescription medication may produce the same changes in another person, but it goes unnoticed. Ultimately, I now believe that health is a term of individual relevancy and cannot be described in such a broad manner. It is more so an idea of opinion rather than scientific definition.

  • alexb

    When it comes to trying to define the word “health,” it is far too obvious to realize that it is not only a word. It is a concept which takes many forms depending on who is asked. There are similarities which we can attribute to being “healthy,” but it seems highly unlikely that there will ever be a universal definition by which everyone will abide.

    The most difficult area of the definition to address is the mental and social well-being of the individual. How is it possible to determine or establish a cut-off point where we can say “Okay, this individual has enough social interaction to be considered ‘healthy.’” Likewise, how can we determine the mental health of someone who is stable but on the extreme ends of the scale (e.g. extremely depressed or extremely euphoric).

    The mind and the thought processes that accompany it are incomprehensibly complex and even more daunting is attempting to classify one mind as healthy or not especially in the “gray area” where most people experience ups and downs. Sure, it is easy to have a diagnosed schizophrenic classified as not healthy, but what about the narcissistic, neurotic individual, for example. Is their unlikable and harmful personality enough to classify them as unhealthy?

    With respect to social health, it would be quite difficult to establish how much social interaction and involvement is enough for someone to be healthy. Many individuals go on to live long, happy lives without ever being too involved with society. Society is another variable in which not only the quantity of interaction is important, but the quality is equally, if not more, important. Bullying can be just a minor interaction during the day but have a profound effect on young individuals and their health (read: teenage suicides).

    Ultimately, health’s intricate variables and complex interactions will probably never allow a cut and dry definition which can be applied to all individuals on Earth. Some may have excellent physical health but poor mental health and still be considered healthy by some (and vice versa). The best approach would be to look at each individual on a case-by-case basis and evaluate their history and make conclusions from there.

  • Stephanie Nicolas

    When defining health, the word health can mean
    differently to different people varying on the situation and their perception. As
    per the World Health Organization, “ Health
    is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely
    the absence of disease or infirmity”. I believe health involves a variety
    of factors, some of which one cannot control, and include both, physical and
    mental factors determined by society, physical environment, and individual
    characteristics. Physical health refers to the health of our body, while mental
    health refers to lacking mental illness. In today’s society, those individuals
    of higher economic status are usually the ones to attain good health being that
    they most likely live in areas where there is clean air, water supply,
    sanitation, and better access to services. Personally, I believe the overall
    feeling of well-being is the ultimate definition of health with education also playing
    a vital role in the health of an individual. Education is vital in that it will
    most likely lead to better health behaviors and lower morbidity rates
    associated with many acute and chronic illnesses. With this, happiness is ultimately
    the most important factor governing the health of an individual in that one can
    live longer lives.

  • Andreina

    When we here the word health, various thoughts run through our minds. Health can be defined in many different ways; meaning health should not have only one definition. Personally, I would
    describe health as something individuals choose in life. Since there are many aspects of health, maintaining a fit and nutritious lifestyle by eating less high fat foods and having a cardiovascular exercise schedule may help attain health and prevent diseases such as Hyperlipidemia, Hypertension or Diabetes. In relation to the World’s Health Organization’s definition of health, these daily routines would fall under the “physical and social well-being” part of the definition. On another perspective, having health or being healthy is being
    content with life and with who you are. Many people live an unhappy life full of problems that result in depression which later lead to bipolar disorder or even suicide. This proves how “mental well-being” takes part in health. Unfortunately, not everything and everyone has this type of healthy life. Numerous individuals are born with higher risks of developing life-threatening diseases and consequently may not be considered as being healthy. As previously
    mentioned, health is a being’s voluntary quality, with the exception of those that come to life with unfortunate birth defects.

  • Stephanie Nicolas

    When defining health, the word
    health can mean differently to different people varying on the situation and
    their perception. As per the World Health Organization, “ Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being
    and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. I believe health
    involves a variety of factors, some of which one cannot control, and include both,
    physical and mental factors determined by society, physical environment, and
    individual characteristics. Physical health refers to the health of our body,
    while mental health refers to lacking mental illness. In today’s society, those
    individuals of higher economic status are usually the ones to attain good
    health being that they most likely live in areas where there is clean air,
    water supply, sanitation, and better access to services. Personally, I believe
    the overall feeling of well-being is the ultimate definition of health with education
    also playing a vital role in the health of an individual. Education is vital in
    that it will most likely lead to better health behaviors and lower morbidity
    rates associated with many acute and chronic illnesses. With this, happiness is
    ultimately the most important factor governing the health of an individual in
    that one can live longer lives.

  • Bradley Wiener

    I believe the definition of health expands well beyond just the absence of illness. When I think of health I would like to think of all kinds of factors that effect not only our physical well being, but also our mental. I believe the mind-body relationship is plays an important role in the way we deal with stress or take care of ourselves. For example, someone who is unable to cope with hardships in life or every day stress may develop high blood pressure and other complications. Moreover, a well balanced life style of exercise, meditation, and time spent with a significant other could better prepare someone could help develop some significant physical benefits like lowering cholesterol and stress hormones.

    As simple as this definition might seem, it becomes increasingly difficult with people who have stressful jobs or someone who’s in pharmacy school. Therefore time management and an overall attitude that’s ready to meet the day-to-day challenges of life I believe are also required. The willingness to change our situations no matter what circumstances we might have… :)

  • Bradley Wiener

    I believe the definition of health expands well beyond just the absence of illness. When I think of health defined, I would like to think of it as an umbrella of ideas relating to the concept of health. These things effect not only our physical well being but also our mental. I believe the mind-body relationship plays a significant role in the way we deal with stress or take care of ourselves. For example, someone who is unable to cope with hardships in life or every day stress might develop high blood pressure and other serious complications. Moreover, a well balanced life style of exercise, meditation, or time spent with a significant other could better prepare someone meet the every day challenges we might face thus impacting our overall health such as lowering cholesterol, blood pressure and other factors.

    To some this definition of health might seem a simple or contrite answer, but i believe it is actually a more challenging and more enlightening way of viewing the definition of health. Trying to incorporate factors like making the time to exercise, meditate or spending time with a significant other could seem daunting especially to those who have jobs that take up most of their time or people in graduate school. But I believe that by finding it in ourselves the willingness and determination to make time for these activities we can become healthier individuals in no matter what circumstance.

  • Mohammad Tina

    Health is everything that is needed in order for an
    individual to be satisfied with all of their current situations in life
    including: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, etc. What affects a person’s health has no boundaries and cannot be limited to a list of just diseases and viruses. The list of what affects health is exhaustive and can be issues as minute as seeing an image for mere seconds and being mentally afflicted for the rest of ones life. Health can be as large an issue as when a person walks out of their dwelling into the open environment and exchanges gases with the atmosphere that covers the entire planet.

    Health is anything and everything with an ever lasting chain of causes and effects. One can take as many provisions in their life they deem necessary and be blindsided with an affliction they never calculated to be a possibility. However this does not prevent us from practicing methods to improve our likelihood of attaining that sense of physical/mental satisfaction (i.e. health) albeit there is always that chance dwindling of an uncalculated life-altering event.

  • Isabel Gonzalez

    The World Health Organization, WHO, defines Health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. This definition is very straight forward and easy to understand. Looking deeper into the definition, the term health by itself is an abstract concept and every person can interpret it in a different way. I agree with most
    of this definition until it states that in order to be healthy you need
    complete physical mental and social wellbeing. It is very difficult to have “complete” physical, mental and social well-being at every moment of our lives. Any of the three can be absent at any specific point of our lives and we perceive ourselves as a healthy human beings regardless. In my opinion, our personalities, spiritualities and actions define our state of well-being. For
    example, every year we see marathon runners run through the finish line. Some of those runners are running on prosthetics legs. Can you say based on the definition that they are not healthy beings because they don’t have legs and function on prosthetics? Physically they don’t have a state of complete well-being but make up for it with the help of prosthetics. Those individuals
    continue to have courage and determination to continue living the healthiest lifestyle they can, even if it’s on prosthetics. We have to see health as a continuum. The state of being healthy cannot be rated on a scale. We may lack one of the components at a specific point of our lives, but if we are able to find the balance maintaining a positive attitude we can restore our “healthy”
    title.

  • Camille Lorenzo NSU

    The meaning of health given by WHO is the ideal of what we aspire as individuals. When we speak of we must do daily exercise not for the fact that were going to be physically healthy, is that if we care we can lead a more satisfying live we will be able to be a more productive person. If we as individuals could do this we would come to what the WHO want. Health is so important that many international companies motivate employees to lead a healthier life by providing them facilities to do exercises and giving additional benefits if they do yearly exams.

  • Carlos Manuel

    As we already know WHO defines Health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”,but are we always completely healthy? Can be there a real definition of what health is about? Health is affected by different factors like the environmental factor, genetic inheritance and physical environment which are constantly changing, so, is it true that we can have a complete state of health? If we have a good environment in the family, in our work or at school then our physical health is going to improve and we are also improving our mental health. But as I said earlier these factors are in a constant change so not always we are going to be in a complete state of well being. Health isn’t something we can measure like we do with the temperature or the height of a person, it is something abstract that we can only infer by what we see externally in a person. It is also affected by the way we perceive ourselves, our brain has the capacity to be involved on the way we feel. If we are sad or we have too much stress our health is going to be affected. So, how should we define health? Maybe we can define it as all the environmental, physical and genetic factors that contribute in a positive way to improve, restore and maintain our health. Not necessarily complete because we are not always be one hundred percent healthy, because it depends on how we feel emotionally and how do we take care of ourselves to contribute to a better health quality.

  • Brandon W.

    The definition of health, as defined by the World Health
    Organization (WHO), is that “health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.

    When dissecting this definition of health it tends to become
    a rather lofty and perhaps unachievable definition. The word “complete” is very specific in meaning in itself, as it is defined as “having all parts or elements; lacking nothing; whole; entire; or full”. If one was to think of “complete physical, mental and social well-being” utilizing this definition of complete, one would also have to question how many individuals could actually achieve the definition of health. Is anyone truly “whole” or “lacking nothing” when it comes to their overall personal physical, mental and social well-being? Is there really someone out there who is “full” and “has every part or element” needed to fit this definition of health? Personally, I would
    have a hard time believing that any one individual could possibly achieve this definition of health as I believe no one individual is perfect. With that said, perhaps health is a term that no individual or thing can achieve? Well that just sounds demoralizing in itself, so maybe the definition should just be tweaked a little.

    Perhaps the definition of health should be reduced to a more achievable definition and be defined as the state of ‘utmost’, ‘greater degree of’ or simply phrased ‘more so than not’. Although these terms may not fit, flow or be grammatically sound within
    the current definition, it at least gives us direction to where the definition should be headed, which is in the direction of obtainable and/or achievable.

  • Viviannette Bajandas

    Viviannette Bajandas
    Pharm.D. Student
    NOVA Southeastern University

    As pharmacist student and public health professional, the definition of WHO: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” This definition needs to be more specific in terms of the physical, social and mental well-being. These three aspects are the social determinants of health, they are the conditions in which
    people are born, grow, live, work and age. These circumstances are shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources at global, national and local levels. If there is a balance in all of these determinants of health and between the factors we will be healthy individuals. Finally health is not only the absence of disease is more than, we can use the health promotion strategies,
    they are not limited to a specific health problem, or to a specific set of behaviors. The strategies can be, health promotion to a variety of population groups, risk factors, diseases, and in various settings. Health promotion, can associated efforts put into education, community development, policy, legislation and regulation, are equally valid for prevention of communicable diseases, injury and violence, and mental problems, as they are for prevention
    of no communicable diseases. Joining these forces we can go more according to the definition of WHO about Health.

  • Tony Perez

    When I read the World Health Organization’s 1948 definition of health, several questions come to mind. What are the implications of this definition? Does it apply to the world population, or just to a specific population(s)? As you can deduce, the WHO’s definition lacks the complexity needed to define a term as abstract as health. Does the definition imply that all those facets of “complete physical, mental and social well-being” need to be complete to enjoy favorable health? Will the mere presence of minor illness or disease deny people the enjoyment of good health? These questions indicate that the WHO’s definition is exceptionally broad. Sixty plus years later, this definition is not sufficient to pinpoint all facets of true healthiness. First, apart from physical, mental and social well-being, people need to be enveloped in a complete environmental state that focuses on well-being and the promotion of a healthy lifestyle. In addition to environmental health, we could include occupational health. This would signify that people could perform a critical role in society for which they could enjoy the fruits of their labor. Lastly, a spiritual component of health could include a focus on emotional well-being through efforts to meditate, reflect on one’s activities, and shows of genuine altruism in good deeds towards our fellowman. In a world society as complex as it is today, it is easy to see how this definition could not embrace all people across national boundaries. Definitions of health very easily vary by culture and beliefs. Thus, even though the WHO executed a bold attempt to define health with a short phrase, it falls short and leaves much up to interpretation – especially now in a different place in time and circumstance.

  • Erika Del Moral Ballesteros

    Before read the definition of “health” given by World Health
    Organization (WHO), I wrote down the ideas that came to my mind when I think
    about “health” (brainstorming). Some of these ideas are: appearance, condition,
    without illness, mental, physical, nutrition, exercise, mind, body, weight, wellness,
    care, no pain, no injury, life, among others. Then, I find out the definition
    given by WHO; “Health” is defined as a state of
    complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of
    disease or infirmity. After read it, I noticed that I was focused on
    the correct meaning. So, I coincide with how they defined health but I think it
    needs to be more specific. Being healthy is taking care and maintenance of the mental,
    physical, and social status to have stable life. These three factors that define
    health are much correlated. As an example, if a person is not socially accepted
    would be mentally affected and also, eventually physically and vice versa.

  • Karla M. Jimenez-Rodriguez

    In order to give a “dictionary”
    definition of what health is one must first think if such a complex concept can
    ever be defined with words. The definition given by the WHO in 1948 is very
    broad and it gives me the impression that reaching a high level of health in the
    population of the world is somewhat unattainable. Still, I agree with this
    definition because it is a comprehensive one that not only includes “absence of
    health or infirmity” but it also focuses on the social aspect of health. Defining
    health includes a myriad of factors that have to be evaluated individually and
    collectively in order to really perceive them. Our world will always be an
    imperfect one, which means that disease, social problems, and conflicts will
    always be present. Nevertheless, our race has been able overcome many obstacles
    along its way, including finding cures and even eradicating diseases. We are
    still a long way ahead if we want to fulfill the expectations established by
    the WHO regarding health and maybe those goals will never be fully achieved.

    I perceive health as a state in which a
    person is not suffering from a disease, but also as a collection of attitudes
    that a person has towards him or herself and towards their surroundings.
    Feeling healthy includes being able to express emotions, being able to have good
    relationships with other people, and to have a stable mental health. It is a
    very complex term to define in a sentence, but one thing that is clear about it
    is that it will always remain an ultimate goal for health professionals to help
    our patients to achieve it regardless of the many definitions of it that may
    surge along the way.

  • Anthony Kennedy

    The mere fact that a Placebo effect occurs seems to suggest that our personal belief systems should be integrated within the definition of health. One could, however, argue that our beliefs fall under the umbrellas of “mental” and “social well being”, thus ensuring that the WHO covered this aspect as well in their definition. However, when I initially read the definition, our belief systems didn’t come into mind. I immediately thought of psychological welfare, and whether or not someone had a social circle to provide happiness and support. This, in itself, highlights a very simple problem to the World Health Organization’s simple statement about what health is. It is simply too vague while simultaneously trying to be all encompassing.

    Essentially, my interpretation of WHO’s statement can be entirely different than yours. That, in itself, isn’t necessarily a problem until I try to assert my will over you or someone else. To you, your child is active and rambunctious, but can focus when told to do so. To your child’s overworked teacher who has to split their attention between 30 or so kids, your kid has ADHD, and is a trouble maker. The thing is, either person in this situation can be correct from a scientific standpoint, yet it is no secret that ADHD is often misdiagnosed. Either way, a child’s health can be manipulated by the presence of absence of medication.

    Let us not forget that our belief systems are constantly changing as a result of our societal pressures. Therefore, perhaps a more dynamic definition is needed. As a kid, I didn’t have any concerns about sexual dysfunction, or being sexually satisfied. Yet, as I watch football games every Sunday as an adult, I’m constantly barraged with the idea that, someday, I might not be able function in the bedroom. If all the parts aren’t in working order, then surely that means that I’m unhealthy right? In fact, some of those commercials seem to argue that true happiness lies only one dose away. With these drugs, not only will I have a stupid grin on my face, but my wife will be happy too. We’ll just conveniently ignore the various side effects associated with these drugs though. Priapism? Isn’t that the goal in the first place?

    Thus, I proffer my modified definition of what health is. Its definitely not perfect, since I’m not even going to pretend that I know enough to give a definition that is good enough. Yet, I’ll offer it anyway.

    Health is the broad spectrum of beliefs, ideas, precautions, and behaviors in regard to living life to the fullest as dictated by the individual and his/her/its society.

  • Yoel Gonzalez

    Health, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. It is an abstract concept that goes beyond the frontiers of medicine. In our society we have been conditioned to a certain specific idea about what is healthy and what is not. Healthy are those that eat clean organic foods, that spend hours of their days at the gym, that make a lot of money, drive luxurious automobiles, etc…Unhealthy are those that are visibly overweight, those that eat fast food on a daily basis, among other things this is what we have come to associate with an unhealthy human being. But maybe that overweight person we view as unhealthy here is considered healthy and beautiful in another culture. That skinny supermodel-looking girl that arrested your eyes as she crossed the street because of her beauty is viewed as unattractive and unhealthy somewhere else.

    To me healthy is more than just physical appearance. Health is having a sound mind and body and taking care of said mind and body, having goals and vigorously pursuing them.

  • Gissel Hermida

    The world health organization worked together to define health and make it into a definition that people can be judged by. In my opinion this “standard” they have set for people lacks many important points in the human life. Health is not something you can measure with a ruler and put a number to. You might be in good health for a number of years and have a genetic disease that will cause you a cancer in the future and you never knew about it. Were you ever healthy then?, if you had the genetic predisposition even though you met the three criteria? The definition is too broad and fails applicability to every condition and situation. Health is circumstantial and the three criteria stated is not “complete” to define the word “health”. For example, what happens to people that meet the three factors, but are born with a physical deformity. Are they considered not healthy by the definition? The definition does not include rare conditions, it is too general. My point is that you can not put a measure to health it is too broad and varies from person to person.

  • Mytreyi Varre

    The fundamental objective of WHO as an organisation is “attainment
    by all peoples of the highest possible level of health”.

    The definition of Health stemmed from the objective as “Health
    is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.

    Relating the objective and definition, one would not be wrong in assuming that WHO is speaking of the health of an individual.

    In such a context, the following questions do arise:

    1. If absence of disease or infirmity alone cannot define health, then are we not diluting the importance of the negative impacts of disease or infirmity and the need to focus on eliminating them?

    2. Also therefore, a state of well being with a disease or infirmity may be possible and needs to be considered.

    3. Using the word “Complete” suggests a state of Utopia and perfection. Can the world identify such a healthy individual? Or perhaps used to set the standard of a perfect individual?

    4. While Physical and mental well being to a large extent could probably be measured, how and who will set the standard for social well being? How can we reconfirm that Columbus was never an
    unhealthy person.

    On reflection, the definition could be more appropriate as “Health is a state of complete physical and mental well being”

    The debate continues…

  • J. Garcia

    I’m agree with the “Health” definition
    provided by the WHO because I consider remains a global and comprehensive
    definition. However, I think is
    necessary modify or make a change in this definition, specifically the word
    “complete physical, mental, and social well-being”,
    within this definition, because makes it seem something absolute and static at
    the same time. On the other hand I think the definition is somewhat incomplete,
    because health is a complex and dynamic concept, which is in constant change
    and transformed according to the circumstances. Each person has a different
    perception of the meaning of health, so it is necessary to make this definition
    more specific and introduce a more detailed terminology in social, physical,
    mental and even spiritual terms. The meaning of health is wide and complex, it
    is not merely the absence of disease, but it is associated with a social,
    environmental, mental and genetic conglomerate within each person, and is the
    same person who determines and defines for itself the health’s meaning.

  • Nahirony Sánchez

    By following the definition of health establish by WHO
    in 1948, health is not merely a decadence of the body, for we must also take
    into consideration the mental (what battles are we fighting or keeping at bay ready
    to strike) and social aspect (how does my environment affect my well-being). Although
    the definition groups tree different aspects of life that may alter an
    individual state of “health”, we must also take into consideration that the
    definition itself is impossible to accomplish in a worldwide aspect. Health is
    an individual matter, for what I consider healthy (physical, mental or social),
    may not be the same for another. If there is one thing that we humans have
    above all other creatures of earth is the ability to rationalize; it is this fact
    that as old as time, we would never reach such complete health for we are always
    changing, evolving our way of thinking and we are never satisfy of what we
    have. If we follow WHO definition, at some point in life, such health may have
    been present, yet it’s not long-lasting. At the present moment, where our
    social and culture environment throw us every minute through the TV, radio, FB,
    twitter, etc that our dependence on technology, our dependence on fast food,
    our dependence to even a simple positive reassurance gesture affect us greatly,
    demonstrating that the definition of health is fragile and easily altered.
    Finally, we are complicated beings, which in my opinion would not reach
    complete health, excluding diseases, unless our time on earth has come to an
    end.

  • Heba Mansour

    Although I think that the WHO definition of health certainly covers the main aspects of being “healthy”, that is, being in a state of physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease, I think that in ways it does have its shortcomings. Mainly, I think it fails to take into consideration a scenario where there is presence of disease while the individual continues to have high spirits and appears to be in a state of complete physical, mental and social well being. In this case would the person be considered unhealthy? I would like argue that the individual in this case although technically unhealthy, can be considered healthy to a certain extent. For this reason I think that these two parts of the definition should not be included under the same term –health. I think that there needs to be a clear distinction between talking about a persons health in regards to disease state and in regards to their mentality state.

  • Nahirony Sánchez

    By following the definition of health establish by WHO
    in 1948, health is not merely a decadence of the body, for we must also take
    into consideration the mental (what battles are we fighting or keeping at bay ready
    to strike) and social aspect (how does my environment affect my well-being). Although
    the definition groups tree different aspects of life that may alter an
    individual state of “health”, we must also take into consideration that the
    definition itself is impossible to accomplish in a worldwide aspect. Health is
    an individual matter, for what I consider healthy (physical, mental or social),
    may not be the same for another. If there is one thing that we humans have
    above all other creatures of earth is the ability to rationalize; it is this fact
    that as old as time, we would never reach such complete health for we are always
    changing, evolving our way of thinking and we are never satisfy of what we
    have. If we follow WHO definition, at some point in life, such health may have
    been present, yet it’s not long-lasting. At the present moment, where our
    social and culture environment throw us every minute through the TV, radio, FB,
    twitter, etc that our dependence on technology, our dependence on fast food,
    our dependence to even a simple positive reassurance gesture affect us greatly,
    demonstrating that the definition of health is fragile and easily altered.
    Finally, we are complicated beings, which in my opinion would not reach
    complete health, excluding diseases, unless our time on earth has come to an
    end.

  • vujwala

    As a health care professional, I believe health has always been elusive to define or measure and ways of rationalizing it will always be evolving. In 21st century,modernization triggered a colossal impact on an individual’s health and hence this created a prodigious need to reformulate the way we define health . Health
    can be understood as a relative state of wholeness and balance, i.e. balance of both internal and external forces and being healthy would allow us to move through the world without ever slowing down. I do partially express my consent with WHO definition of health i.e. “the complete physical, mental, and social well-being
    and not merely the absence disease or infirmity” but would also want science to define the parameters for measuring health. As WHO definition of health is very broad and hence makes it difficult to measure one’s health state. It is very much needed that all three components of health i.e. Physical body, emotional and mental-spiritual is measurable. These parameters once defined and established, would enable everybody to easily ascertain whether heshe is progressing towards being healthy or is actually regressing toward a deeper state of imbalance.

  • Leusely

    Leusely Phicil

    Hypothetically, If we could define health, wouldn’t we have to update the definition everyday? Would the definition apply to everyone in the world? “Health is a state of physical, mental, and social well being and not merely the absence of disease.” That definition of health sounds very subjective, which allows me to assume that it can vary based on who is defining it. As a result, it can be defined many different ways. Since the definition is not objective, who is setting the standard for the definition? On the other hand, for those of us that are religious, we do believe that our spirituality can be the foundation of our health. Why was that excluded from the definition?

    As a result, I believe that we cannot universally define health. If we cannot universally define health, then what would be the purpose of defining health? However, I agree with the article that we can merely “frame” health. Framing the definition of health could allow it to be something that is universal. It can give us an idea or a minute understanding of health. As stated in the article, I believe that health is like beauty in the eye of the beholder. It proves that health is something that is individualized. The definition would vary for each person.

  • Abby Narens

    In 1948, the World Health Organization (WHO) coined an official
    definition of health, “Health is a state of complete physical, mental,
    and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or
    infirmity.” While I do not completely disagree with this statement, it
    definitely raised some questions in my mind. Is there one correct way
    to have this complete state of well-being? Is health a universal concept
    for everyone, or do we form more individual definitions? Do we think
    of health the same way as the next person? For example, take the word
    “complete” here. The WHO definition is basically stating a person is
    not truly healthy until he or she is fully at peace with the physical,
    social, and mental self. However, happiness and health, as with beauty,
    are in the eye of the beholder. When we look at those with
    debilitating conditions, such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy, or
    athletes who have prosthetic legs, for example, by the WHO definition
    they are not considered healthy. But these people are healthy by other
    standards, or perhaps different cultures and lifestyles. A wheelchair
    in the case of DMD, or the prosthetic legs, are merely compensations for
    their well-being. We also need to consider that health is not measured
    along a scale, but a continuum. If at any given time in our lives, we
    lack one of the aspects of a complete well-being, we can alter our lives
    for the better. Once we find a balance, we are definitely still
    healthy in our own way. Just because it is a slight variation from the norm does not mean a person is not healthy. In certain situations, going back to the continuum model, health falls within a certain range. An obese person may feel comfortable in his or her own skin, but that is not a healthy physical state. Maintaining an active lifestyle, eating healthy, and exercising may allow the person to gradually move back within a healthy range. We can’t rely on one universal model of health, as a continuum may be more appropriate in certain areas.

  • Roberto Mendez

    Health is undoubtedly a difficult concept to properly
    define. I believe that the WHO definition of health being the “state of complete physical, mental, and social well being” is mostly accurate because it encompasses all the aspects of human life that contribute to health. Physical health is necessary in order for our body to be able to function. Being diseasefree is a major component of health. Social well being is an important factor
    of healthy living because it includes relationships with other individuals. Hurtful relationships with others can lead to emotional stress and depression, which will ultimately have a detrimental effect on the health of the individual.Often undervalued, mental health is also a key component of a healthy lifestyle. I think of it as how a person sees himself and how strong his motivation and
    optimism are. Having a positive outlook on life will often make a person feel well and this leads to improved health. Religious and philosophical views also play a role in mental health, as people sometimes depend on them for emotional balance.

    That being said, the use of the word “complete” to
    define health is inappropriate. Very few people are ever going to be entirely healthy when you take into account the 3 components of health (physical,mental, and social). There is always going to be something that will affect a person. I believe that the word “complete” should have been completely omitted and in my opinion this would have a resulted in a more accurate definition of
    health.

  • Sylera88

    When someone talks to
    us about health we know what they are talking about, but here comes the problem.
    Giving a specific definition to such complex and extensive term is kind of challenging
    for it has different meanings to different people. For me, health describes the
    condition of well-being of a person; its mind and physical stability, as part
    of the definition given by the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO
    does not provide a complete definition of health, it lacks information. Expanding such definition; health is what
    makes you a complete healthy person in all the aspects; physical, mental,
    spiritual, and social. In my opinion, health could include both the presence
    and the absence of a disease, which would define the overall physical or mental
    condition of a person.

  • Karlee Walklett

    The definition of health by the World Health Organization
    is very broad and doesn’t really identify the way health should be viewed. WHOS defines health as “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the
    absence of disease or infirmity.” This definition categorizes
    everyone who doesn’t fall in the standards of “complete physical, mental, or social well-being” to be not healthy? But, who determines these standards? I have a grandmother who I would consider “healthy” although she is schizophrenic.She is completely happy and stable in her own little world. A person who has
    just high blood pressure but, takes medication to bring it to normal would still be considered “healthy” to me. Personally, I think of health as someone’s current status and to be “healthy” one should
    have not have any physical, mental or social issues that disrupt their everyday living. It all depends on the person and what makes them feel stable in their own life. There are everyday things that people do like eat bad food, not exercise, or sleep all the time but as long as these people are happy and that stuff doesn’t affect their CURRENT physical, social, or mental status then they
    should be termed “healthy”.

  • Marie Giuliani Pharm.D Student

    “State of complete, physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” is the definition of health by the World Health Organization. After making a quick search about the determinants of health, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention lists factors such as: biology, individual behaviors, social environment and health services. Health should be defined depending on each individual and its circumstances. If I could change the original definition of health based on the factors mentioned above, it would be, the highest achievement of physical, mental and social capacity that allow the social and biologic factors in which are immersed the individual and the community. As a future pharmacist and health professional I believe that providing better health services is an important step in the improvement of the different hopes people have about health.

  • Karlee Walklett

    The definition of health by the World Health Organization
    is very broad and doesn’t really identify the way health should be viewed. WHOS
    defines health as “Health is a
    state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the
    absence of disease or infirmity.” This definition categorizes
    everyone who doesn’t fall in the standards of “complete physical, mental, or
    social well-being” to be not healthy? But, who determines these standards? I
    have a grandmother who I would consider “healthy” although she is schizophrenic.
    She is completely happy and stable in her own little world. A person who has
    just high blood pressure but, takes medication to bring it to normal would
    still be considered “healthy” to me. Personally,
    I think of health as someone’s current status and to be “healthy” one should
    have not have any physical, mental or social issues that disrupt their everyday
    living. It all depends on the person and what makes them feel stable in their
    own life. There are everyday things that people do like eat bad food, not
    exercise, or sleep all the time but as long as these people are happy and that
    stuff doesn’t affect their CURRENT physical, social, or mental status then they
    should be termed “healthy”.

  • Levi Morris

    Health is a concept that seems to be relevant to a person’s
    current living atosmphere that encompasses every item, characteristic and activity of his or her daily life. The definition given by the WHO is a starting point but for current and
    future society, the term health needs to be expanded. I believe, in order to help understand health; we as society need a reference point. What is optimal health and how can that be achieved? As simple as this question may seem, the answer is difficult to obtain. Health is a complex and abstract word that must take into account all aspects of an individual’s life. Just thinking about
    it, I cannot picture optimal health. There are a plethora of factors that adds to the overall state of a person’s health. The main concept of health is to live life to its fullest in a state of well-being. Health is relative to the individual. It is abstract,complex and could not merely be explained with a simple definition.

  • Lynette Gonzalez

    People tend to think of health purely as a physical state. They think of health as someone who has no disease, injury, pain or physical handicap of any kind. WHO, however, defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”While this definition is encompasses all aspects of what we could consider health it places most people in the category of being “unhealthy”. One option is to change how we view health from being something a person has or lacks (healthy or unhealthy) to a scaled approach: being very healthy to being less healthy. It is also important to realize that health, when not related to severe disease is also a point of view. Someone knowing all their physical, social and mental situations could consider themselves healthy, someone else would consider them unhealthy. According to WHO’s definition of health there are very few perfectly “healthy” people. Most humans are battling some physical condition, even if it
    is just a minor cold or sight head ache. Most people go through emotionally difficult times that affect their mental well being. Most humans have social difficulties at one point or another; they could be getting divorced, feeling bullied, being discriminated against or being treated unfairly to a greater or less degree. Complete
    health of physical, mental and social well being while a wonderful idea is unlikely to be possessed for very long by any individual, much less a county or the world. This definition of health places it into an almost unattainable category for almost all the human population, but if we think of health as being more healthy or less healthy depending on how an individual is at the moment then it may be possible for all of us to be healthy.

  • Fanes Jean

    Health is not an easy concept to define, or can
    it be defined at all. Health is characterized by different factors such as life
    style, diet regimen, exercising, and more. These factors can be seen as predetermining
    aspects of health. This consideration leads me to this attempt of
    definition: health is everything that should be done to keep our body and our mind
    in a state of well-being.

  • Malcolm Wynter

    Health, what is health really? Is it a definable
    word or is it an idea based on perception? This is quite an interesting argument one which can be viewed from many different angles. Consequently, the angle I chose is as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of
    disease or infirmity”. My opinion on this definition is that it is a valiant effort by WHO to define a word that is so obscure. Nonetheless, I have to nitpick a bit and the portion I am going to quibble about is “complete physical, mental and social well-being”. Reason being, personally I don’t believe at any point
    we can achieve this level of completeness mentioned in the definition. Does this then mean we are all Unhealthy individuals? It is a reasonable argument.As a result, I would take the word complete from the definition as I believe this is an unachievable feat. Moreover, the addition of a word such as sufficient
    might be appropriate, but then it all comes back to perception. What is your idea of sufficient? Nonetheless, that would be my little tweak of the definition as it stands.

  • Ileana M

    Redefining Health

    What is health? That’s the question that we have, then, ask whether we possess. According to the World Health Organization, health is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well
    being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” This definition is currently perceived by many different ways. Thanks to social media like, “Facebook”, the internet, among other technological means, many people can comment on this definition in order to improve it. However, I understand that it is not possible to reach full agreement on the issue of health, as each person defines health according to their values, beliefs, and social
    and these vary from person to person.

    As I understand the definition of health by the World Health Organization looks somewhat incomplete and lacking in action. This definition speaks of the person wellbeing and/ or of the absence of it. The physical well being, mental, social, and absence of disease are parts of health. I mean add a verb that implies an action on behalf of every person to be healthy. I would add that health is self-care. I think that adding self we are adding to the definition of who reads responsibility to do their part to have health. For example, to enjoy a complete physical health needs to eat well
    and exercise regularly are part of good self-care.

    However, according to the definition of health puts us in an unhealthy state for the vast majority of people. Thinking about this, the definition of health presented by the World Health Organization defines it as a state of complete, can be interpreted as a perfect
    state. Which highly desirable, although not something that most humans can enjoy. Therefore, we can see the definition a bit ambitious for most of humanity. Now I understand that the purpose of having a definition of health is to have a goal, a goal to reach and a way to prevent premature deaths and guide individuals to live healthy. Analyzing thus understand that the definition of health should be added with the word self responsibility. Even, I dare to add that health is also achieving a state of complete physical, mental and social development through self-management, following medical instructions and complying with appropriate medication administration, despite the existence of a disease being handled. This would not be for some health because they start from the premise that health is absolute. However, if it is to help, add to the
    definition of health, to empathize with many of the people who are daily struggling to get healthier. This will help to increase awareness of then importance of the active participation of each person in your health.

  • Ruchita Makadia

    WHO (World health Organization) defined health as a state of complete physical, social and mental well-being and not merely the
    absence of disease or infirmity. Although this definition provides broad meaning of health, it is not complete and ideal. Health can be perceived differently by all individuals. It is true that health is not merely absence of disease, but at the same time it is not state of complete physical, mental and social well-being. I believe that the person with a physical disability is not unhealthy. Thus adaptation and self- management as discussed by Huber and colleagues also plays an important role in defining health. Constant efforts should always be made towards achieving physical, social and mental well-being by pursuing healthy lifestyle and environment, but at the same time desire to improve, manage and adapt to certain conditions is also an important factor in being healthy.

  • tina

    The definition of health is not limited to the absence of disease state but also, it is includes emotionally and spiritually well-beings as well as level of achievements to goals. Someone might not be in pain,
    sick, or depress but still might not feel completely well because one is not accomplishing the goals that one was anticipating.

  • Danielle Ramp

    The World Health Organization defines health as “A state of
    complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. This definition implies that in order to be healthy one must achieve complete health in all three of these categories at all times. I believe health is more of a day to day balance between these three categories instead of a complete wholeness all the time. Although physical, mental and social well-being are all interrelated—if someone is lacking in one of these categories for a single given week it doesn’t mean they are unhealthy. The definition also doesn’t take individualization into account. Something that is physically and emotionally draining to one person’s health may affect another person’s health differently. There are many factors that impact health—the environment, education, income/employment, and genetics—these factors vary throughout life and affect every person differently.

  • Guest

    Health: “A state of complete physical, mental and social
    well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

    The definition of health given by the World Health Organization covers the physical, mental and social aspects of health. Are those the only components of health? Is that an accurate definition of health? I think it is decent definition, but I do not think that one definition can accurately state what health is for 7 billion people, which is approximately the entire world population. The definition of health may vary from person to person. For me, maybe being healthy means that I feel good physically and mentally, I am in a good place socially and I am not suffering from a life-threatening disease. As for another person, being healthy can simply indicate being fit or in a good
    shape. Maybe an overweight person that does not get sick very often considers him/herself to be healthy, but someone else would think otherwise. What if you do not meet the complete criteria for being healthy, and just part of it? For example, a person that is missing an arm or a leg, or maybe someone that cannot walk, who evidently does not have complete physical well-being; Is this person going to be classified as unhealthy just for that? After all, the definition
    clearly states that health refers to a complete well-being. I think that good definition is not meant to leave us with more questions than
    answers.

    Your concept of health depends on where you live, your surroundings, cultural customs, personal experiences and beliefs. Finding an exact definition for health is like trying to fit a single shoe on an entire population, it will fit some people, but not everyone, there are always unique situations and exceptions. I think it would be very difficult to generate an accurate universal definition of health, but it is worth trying, it helps us understand the complexity of it.

  • Umangi Pandit

    According to WHO, Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.The word “Health” is originated from old English word hale, meaning “wholeness, being whole, sound or well,” I totally agree with the term and the definition of the health. Health or being healthy is not only the result of being diseases free, but includes a myriad of factors that have to be evaluated in order to really perceive them. The state of being healthy reflects differently with different population. In my view, we can all agree that health is important to us and we all want to be healthy. But what health means to each of us is very subjective. I also believe that health should also be viewed on a 
continuum where individuals must balance factors such as environmental, psychological influences, social factors in order to preserve quality of life.

  • Roberta Marie

    Health: “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

    The definition of health given by the World Health Organization covers the physical, mental and social aspects of health. Are those the only components of health? Is that an accurate definition of health? I think it is decent definition, but I do not think that one definition can accurately state what health is for 7 billion people, which is approximately the entire world population. The definition of health may vary from person to person. For me, maybe being healthy means that I feel good physically and mentally, I am in a good place socially and I am not suffering from a life-threatening disease. As for another person, being healthy can simply indicate being fit or in a good shape. Maybe an overweight person that does not get sick very often considers him/herself to be healthy, but someone else would think otherwise. What if you do not meet the complete criteria for being healthy, and just part of it? For example, a person that is missing an arm or a leg, or maybe someone that cannot walk, who evidently does not have complete physical well-being; Is this person
    going to be classified as unhealthy just for that? After all, the definition clearly states that health refers to a complete well-being. I think that good definition is not meant to leave us with more questions than answers.

    Your concept of health depends on where you live, your surroundings, cultural customs, personal experiences and beliefs. Finding an exact definition forhealth is like trying to fit a single shoe on an entire population, it will fit some people, but not everyone, there are always unique situations and exceptions. I think it would be very difficult to generate an accurate universal definition of health, but it is worth trying, it helps us understand the complexity of it.

  • Guest

    The World Health Organization defines health as “A state of
    complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. This definition implies that in order to be healthy one must achieve complete health in all three of these categories at all times. I believe health is more of a day to day balance between these three categories instead of a complete wholeness all the time. Although physical, mental and social well-being are all interrelated—if someone is lacking in one of these categories for a single given week it doesn’t mean they are unhealthy. The definition also doesn’t take individualization into account. Something that is physically and emotionally draining to one person’s health may affect another person’s health differently. There are many factors that impact health—the environment, education, income/employment, and genetics—these factors vary throughout life and affect every person differently.

  • Roberta Marie

    Health: “A state of complete physical, mental and social
well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”



    The definition of health given by the World Health Organization covers the physical, mental and social aspects of health. Are those the only components of health? Is that an accurate definition of health? I think it is decent definition, but I do not think that one definition
    can accurately state what health is for 7 billion people, which is
    approximately the entire world population. The definition of health may vary from person to person. For me, maybe being healthy means that I feel good physically and mentally, I am in a good place socially and I am not suffering from a life-threatening disease. As for another person, being healthy can simply indicate being fit or in a good
shape. Maybe an overweight person that does not get sick very often considers him/herself to be healthy, but someone else would think otherwise. What if you do not meet the complete criteria for
    being healthy, and just part of it? For example, a person that is missing an arm or a leg, or maybe someone that cannot walk, who evidently does not have complete physical well-being; Is this person going to be classified as unhealthy just for that? After all, the definition
clearly states that health refers to a complete well-being. I think that good definition is not meant to leave us with more questions than
answers. 

Your concept of health depends on where you live, your surroundings, cultural customs, personal experiences and beliefs. Finding an exact definition for health is like
    trying to fit a single shoe on an entire population, it will fit some people, but not everyone, there are always unique situations and exceptions. I think it would be very difficult to generate an accurate universal definition of health, but it is worth trying, it helps us understand the complexity of it.

  • Ana Cires

    Health, in my opinion, goes beyond the WHO definition. I do agree that it is “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well being” as they established, and it is not necessarily “the absence of a disease”; however, I also believe that health is more an individual perspective than a generalized concept. “Being healthy” I believe is a matter of how you face life, how are you able to deal with all the struggles you encounter (including medical, psychological, and other types of adversities), is a matter of what is your health behavior, and how do you decide what are the rules that will guide your life. Lets take for example a person with a chronic disease, they would have days were they feel “sick”, some others they will feel “healthy”, even though their condition is always present; on the other hand, there might be someone that will only have sick days since the fact that deal with a chronic disease is enough for them to not be able to continue moving forward. With this Im trying to illustrate that we all are different, and our perceptions of what healthy is might vary according to the live we live, our backgrounds, and our personalities. By establishing that health as a concept vary among individuals, we not also learn to be more compassionate and understanding with our patients, but also it helps us focus to find for every person the best therapy for their diseases.

  • sumaiah

    WHO define health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. I agree with this definition and that health include different components (body and mind). to add more, a healthy human being should be able to live to there full potential with the capacity to perform what is expected of them, and the ability to function in the society.

  • NSUTIA

    The definition of word the “health” changes with one’s perspective. Health to one person could mean not having a cold whereas another would define it as being pain free. The World Health Organization defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Pope John Paul of The Vatican defines it as Health is a dynamic tension towards physical, mental, social and spiritual harmony, and not only the absence of illness, which gives man the ability to fulfill the mission which has been entrusted to him, according to the state of life in which he finds himself. I agree with WHO and their definition of health; however, I would like to add my personal opinion/definition of the word.

    Health to me means the state in which your physical, mental and social well-being is at the optimal level, free of not only disease and illness but also free of dis-ease or any uneasiness and discomfort. This can be broken down further into three separate categories: Physical, Mental and Social

    Optimal physical well-being is a state in which your body is free of any pain and discomfort/soreness. Optimal mental well-being is a state where your mind is free of pain and discomfort, may it be emotional pain, stress or otherwise. Optimal social well- being is a state in which you can interact, communicate and relate with others and have a sense of belonging/friendship without conflict.

  • Diana Toledo

    “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” is the established definition of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1948. It is a good definition. However, it creates controversy because health is a broad concept and every person has their own definition and/or perception of what heath definition should includes. That´s fine because as they did (WHO members), we are doing now, we are trying to establish a definition that covers all our thoughts, studying similarities and also the outliner points that maybe will be consider to modify the previous decisions about health definition.
    As pharmacist student I studying diseases and pharmacology and I could choose a definition including the knowledge I am acquiring so far. However, I decide to contribute witn a simple, non specific and non scientific definition but in real be able to be understood by every kind of person, with any type of educational level.
    For me, part of the health definition is feel good naturally in such a way of being capable to do whatever I want to do. I mean, if I feel good and I can do what I want, then I am healthy person.
    Thank you for your effort and let us expressing our ideas in order of expand or modify health definition.

  • Eric Martinez

    Defining health is not a simple endeavor. Almost everyone agrees that the state of being healthy is the absence of illness or injury. But is that the true meaning of health? To answer this basic question, the World Health Organization (WHO) defined health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” on April 7, 1948. Will humanity ever attain that utopian goal? Unfortunately, even with the drastic advancements of science, medicine, and technology over that time span, a significant portion of the population are incapable of achieving that “healthy” state. Even during the high and low points in an individual’s life, there is some level of the opposite state accompanying it. Thereby achieving a complete state of well being is virtually unattainable. Ultimately, humans are unique individuals embodied by their own unique experiences thus will have different paradigms on the topic of health. I think that the WHO was correct on arguably choosing the three most meaningful segments of the human experience: physical, mental, and social. If I were to define the essence of health, it should be the state of virtuous equilibrium between the physical, mental, and social existence.

  • Eydia S. Barreto

    One of the most important things that human beings have is health, which is essential to take care of it. Health has been defined by the World Health Organization as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. Health is a state of being, which involves a balance between physical, mental and social. Having good physical health involves that the body is able to maintain its functions normally and is able to make a response to protect against damage. On the other hand, mental health involves the ability of the person to handle difficult situations and to recover from a traumatic event. Finally, social health involves the ability of
    individuals to meet their obligations to manage their life with a degree of independence despite any illness.
    We must bear in mind the increase in the number of people suffering from chronic diseases worldwide. Many diseases, such as diabetes, cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, among others conditions can be preventable by a
    proper education. Pharmacists and other health professionals are engaged in defending and assessing health needs by different health issues. It is important to educate the patients on how their actions and bad practices affect the proper functions of their body. Through education and health promotion strategies it
    can seek and assist individuals, communities, and societies in adopting and maintaining healthy lifestyles.

    We can achieve awareness in society to take active action regarding his / her health. It is very important that people can work and participate in social activities and feel healthy despite their illnesses and limitations.

  • Yirelia

    “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” In my opinion is difficult to obtain a complete well being of physical, mental and social at the same time because when one thing goes good another goes bad. Maybe the definition needs to go in
    a more realistic direction that people feels more identified. People tend to see health as at least one thing good or not appreciate when have one good and the others not. For example people have jobs (social state is good) but are exhausted because the hours and says that feels bad and don’t have health but
    they really don’t see how lucky they are. They are so many persons with disabilities that try to effort and get and job and feel wonderful because don’t see any problem to have a disability and get a job. It would be strange that a person says I have health because I am physically, mental and social good. My definition of health would be the state to be in balance with my physical, mental and social aspects or at least two of them are in harmony with
    the other.

  • gj263

    According
    to the World Health Organization (WHO) health is
    defined as “A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and
    not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. I believe that having complete
    physical and mental well-being implies the absence of any physical and mental
    disease while not having a complete social well-being does not indicate the absence
    of health. Even though social determinants of health play a key role in health
    status they do not define health. Trying to define health is not an easy task
    since the definition may vary according to the opinion of each person. For
    example: Is a person that suffers sporadic migraine episodes considered a
    healthy person? For some people the answer will be yes because the episodes are
    sporadic and meanwhile a disease is absent while others may contemplate it as a
    disease itself. Considering that health has such a complex meaning the better
    definition that I can think of is that health represents the absence of disease
    or infirmity and that it can be pursue by reaching a complete physical, mental
    and social well being.

  • Cody Wright

    CODY WRIGHT

    The World Health Organization defined the term ‘health’ over six and half decades ago. Yet the definition has not been rewritten, altered, or improved upon, in any way since. Has mankind’s knowledge of human health not increased drastically in the last sixty-five years? Are we measuring arbitrary values and plugging them into an equation to calculate one’s health? Are there factors this equation is lacking? In my opinion, the WHO’s definition of health is would be more appropriately deemed the definition of wellness. Although synonymous, wellness and health are not concisely equivalent.

    As we might like to think we have an understanding of human health, we most certainly do not. Undoubtedly, one’s health has factors that can be assessed in attempt to quantitatively measure health. In example: blood pressure, BMI, CrCL, LBW, HbA1c, etc. As the WHO’s definition states, absence of disease is a determinant of one’s health. But should these factors not be weighted? There are too many subjectively measured factors to create a “one-size-fits-all” generic equation, or definition universally measuring and assigning an absolute, or health score.

    I will not insinuate I have anywhere near enough knowledge or wisdom to propose a definition for accurately evaluating one’s health; However, I will indicate it should vary largely person to person. Perhaps creating a mathematical equation; one that weights different factors of wellness accordingly. Assigning weights according to each individual’s definition of life; attempting to appropriately delegate importance to variables held more significant to the individual being assessed. This is the only plausible scenario I can construct that incorporates the subjective and immeasurable values of one’s health.

  • Aylin Parra

    In my opinion, health is an interrelated complex depending on several
    factors and being influenced by each individual’s physical and emotional
    condition. As a matter of fact, health among individuals does not
    equally measure happiness, comfort, well-being, or completeness because
    like the saying goes, one person problem is another challenge.
    Generally, adequate
    sanitation, combined with appropriate hygiene and
    safe water, are essential for good health, independent to wealth
    status, age or race. Furthermore, it is a condition very difficult to
    measurement due to the fact its interpretation being subjective. Although is true health
    is not just the absence of a disease or illness, depending on
    the severity and duration of the disease in combination
    with the
    spiritual characteristics of the person it is closely correlated with an
    individual’s well-being status. I completely agree with the
    definition on that health is also a combination of social, physical and
    especially mental well-being.

    Reference:

    http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov

  • Cody Wright

    Cody Wright

    The World Health Organization defined the term ‘health’ over six and half decades ago. Yet the definition has not been rewritten,
    altered, or improved upon, in any way since. Has mankind’s knowledge of human health not increased drastically in the last sixty-five years? Are we measuring arbitrary values and plugging them into an equation to calculate one’s health? Are there factors this equation is lacking? In my opinion, the WHO’s definition of health is would be more appropriately deemed the definition of wellness. Although synonymous, wellness and health are not concisely equivalent.

    As we might like to think we have an understanding of human health, we clearly do not. Undoubtedly, one’s health has factors that can be assessed in attempt to quantitatively measure health. In example: blood pressure, BMI, CrCL, LBW, HbA1c, etc. As the WHO’s definition states, absence of disease is a determinant of one’s health. But should these factors not be weighted? There are too many subjectively measured factors to create a “one-size-fits-all” generic equation, or definition universally measuring and assigning an absolute value, or health score.

    I will not insinuate I have anywhere close to enough knowledge or wisdom to propose a definition for accurately evaluating one’s health. However I will indicate it should vary largely person to person. Perhaps creating a mathematical equation; one that weights different factors of wellness accordingly. Assigning weights according to each individual’s definition of life; attempting to appropriately delegate importance to variables held more significant to the individual being assessed. This is the only plausible scenario I can construct that incorporates the subjective and immeasurable values of one’s health.

  • Bhavya

    According to me, health is a state of mind and it lies in the eye of beholder. I believe health = positive state of mind. It means being optimistic, and taking life in a positive way despite of ‘n’ number of negative vibrations living around a person. I believe building positive vibrations in ourself as well as in environment around us has so much power that it can restrain us from catching or possessing any kind of ailment. According to Florence Nightingale “Health is not only to be well, but to be able to use well every power we have.” Her words have changed my perspective and makes me think that nothing is impossible. From my personal experience I feel human body has so much strength, that by praying or building positive vibrations for someone who is ill, can perhaps cure his illness and make him as healthy as before. In other words health means to be positive and acting in harmony with our environment. Nowadays we live in 21st century, where our lives are busy and affected by stress due to economy and various other problems. Thus, it is the manner in which people cope up with the stress, either mental, emotional or physical and building a positive environment can act as two factors which greatly influences how a healthy condition can prevail. I strongly believe that being healthy is a vital part of our society and thus is the key to happiness and well being of the world.

  • NSU-Pharm

    The world health organization defines health as “a state of complete, physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. The narrow scope of the current WHO definition leaves itself open to discussion on what would be a more appropriate definition. In the article “How should health be defined?” it is clear they are trying to illustrate that health does not only depend on a disease state. It is difficult to create one definition of health that encompasses all people around the world. Access to care and information can be severely limited in certain parts of the world and people are still more conscious of death due to acute illnesses. In another part of the world people are living longer and so chronic diseases become the topic of interest. Each person’s definition of health can
    change moment to moment, it is very individualized. I do not believe it would be advisable to constantly change the definition of health but perhaps one overall change in that health is not only determined by the absence of disease but how well they can cope. Chronic illnesses become more prevalent as people get older that is true but, you can still be healthy overall. Health must be
    redefined to include all aspects of today’s world, a lot has changed since 1948 and we need to continue evolving our expectations and yes to some extent our definition of health.

  • Erin

    I personally think that, although this may be an idealistic perspective, that the precise definition of health is not where efforts should be focused. Regardless of the standard that was set by WHO in the past, any effort towards improvement in health and the lives of people around the world is positive, therefore efforts should continue in this direction. I believe that it is unrealistic to expect to be able to cure everyone, or get the entire population at the same or at an arbitrary “acceptable” or “defined” level of health. There will always be exceptions and unfortunate or unforeseen circumstances and in my personal opinion, we have to
    draw the line somewhere. In addition, there are political barriers
    preventing full access to even minimal health care, clean water, and proper nutrition around the world. Until these issues are addressed, there is always going to be a serious divide in the quality of health among first, second, and third world countries. To follow this thought, addressing the issue of world politics brings into consideration morality, because in defining health you are indirectly setting a standard which includes social and global
    responsibility. Is it appropriate to expect others to take on the responsibility of caring for everyone else? I am not saying we should, as a whole, just forget the greater good, but I think that an appropriate balance of willingness, expectation, and resources should provide a level of care that encompasses what
    the definition of health should embody, instead of meeting a certain, specific criteria set by definition.

  • Cristina Pagan

    Achievable health…is in the action:

    I understand and believe the WHO 1948 definition is
    accurate and a good guideline to begin with. Nonetheless, if there is something, I consider, we can learn in 2013 about these “defining health” efforts is that it is much ado about nothing. A definition shouldn’t cause so much trouble if the goal is to achieve health and not to get a doctorate in philosophy. From were I stand the horizon might have been lost when it became more important to dissect each word to its meaning and possible interpretations than to put them into actions. So I will here by take the liberty to exemplify instead of define. Given that I believe examples are easier to emulate than wordy instructions are to be followed.

    Health is: not suffering hunger; drinking potable water; having the necessary clothes and shoes to protect our body from our environment; having a place to shelter; not suffering abuse; not suffering disease; being able to prevent disease; having
    family and/or friends; having education; having peace of mind…

    I sure can continue to give examples. But it is not “I” it is “us” that should. Working in how we can achieve health or help others achieve it, instead of just deciphering and limiting what health is, is a much better way to achieve health individually and globally.

  • Nabila Valles Ortiz

    When we speak about the definition of health we find that through time many definitions have been developed. Many of the existing definitions are contributions from Sigerist, Stampar, Milton Terris, and others. During the XX century the definition of health was of negative character and in the 40 & 50s it began to have a more positive connotation. As time went by this definition has changed and has opened new conceptions of what is health and its determinants.

    I think that the definition offered by the WHO have more integrals concepts than preexisting definitions, but is not completely adequate, and the evidence is the many lot of diagnoses for chronic disease. This definition is theoretically fine, but the reality is that the health is not a simple concept. When I think in what is health, it comes to mind many of the determinants like for example, genetics, environment, nutrition, lifestyles, etc. The true is that health is influenced by many factors that change in every people like social, individual, economics and others. Also is true that this factors impact the health of people in different ways. So, when we look of what is health not only is important to know what is, also is extremely important look what are the reason or factors that influence that. It is not merely to have a good definition of health, but a strategy that help us to achieve the well-being. Is more important promote health education in order to orientated the people how to achieve the well-being. Fox example, impacting the communities trying to have a change in the behaviors of the people is more effective way to address it for the healthy social that we all aspires.

  • Cristina Pagan

    Achievable health… is in the action:

    I understand and believe the WHO 1948 definition is
    accurate and a good guideline to begin with. Nonetheless, if there is something, I consider, we can learn in 2013 about these “defining health” efforts is that it is much ado about nothing. A definition shouldn’t cause so much trouble if the goal is to achieve health and not to achieve a doctorate in philosophy. From were I stand the horizon might have been lost when it became more important to dissect each word to its meaning and possible
    interpretations than to put them into actions. So I will hereby take the liberty to exemplify instead of define. Given that I believe examples are easier to emulate than wordy instructions are to be followed.

    Health is: not suffering hunger; drinking potable water; having the necessary clothes and shoes to protect our body from our environment; having a place to shelter; not suffering abuse; not suffering disease; being able to prevent disease; having family and/or friends; having education; having peace of mind…

    I sure can continue to give examples. But it is not “I” it is “us” that should. Working in how we can achieve health or help others achieve it, instead of just deciphering and limiting what health is, is a much better way to achieve health individually and globally.

  • Jose L. Garcia Toledo

    “Health is a state of complete physical mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

    As well has been establish in the last definition, health is more than the absence of illness. For someone to be considered healthy I believe they need to be look in a holistic way. Therefore to be healthy you need to be not only free of any pathogen but in a homeostasis with the environment and your inward. Such as previously define, health is a complete physical, mental and social well being, but careful what appear to me to be in a complete well being is not necessarily what in other cultures is healthy, therefore to make a unique and structure definition for the concept health it may come to be a real challenge.

  • Julianne Bobet

    When most of us think about heath what comes to our minds is
    the physical absence of disease but health is more complex than that. The World
    Health Organization defines it as “a state of complete physical, mental and
    social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. So it is
    not only your physical health is everything. The problem with this definition is that only
    a small part of the world population if any can be classified as healthy
    because is almost impossible to be completely well physically, mentally and
    socially. I think health is how well a person feels physically, mentally and
    socially. So I agree partially with the
    definition given by WHO because I do not think that you can have a state of
    complete well-being.

  • Isandra Rodriguez

    In 1948 The World Health Organization defined health as “the
    complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. Having a disease or not does not fully define being healthy. Clearly mental and social well-being is very important in civilization. Over the years, lack of human interaction has lead more individuals to become emotionally unhealthy. One of the main reasons we have social media is because we need acceptance and interaction with others. As this lacks in our day to day lives, we have found an alternative in cyberspace. However, the amount of people suffering from depression has increased throughout the years. Happiness plays a major role in our health, and unfortunately not many can say that they live a happy life. Most of us are stressed on a daily basis due to school, work, family etc. We forget to slow down and enjoy the minute things, leading us to the point of disease.

  • MTW

    NSU 16

    Health encompasses the physical, mental, socio-
    economic and emotional well being of an individual. Being healthy does not stipulate that the body is free of disease but also that the body is free of physical, emotional and environmental stressors. Being healthy also include having a “sound mind”, a mind that is free of all factors that predisposes it to be “out of balance”. Our brain controls the proper functioning of our body and when there are stressors in our lives and environment that cause the brain to deviate from its’ normal function this result in the body being “out of balance”.

    Health is wholistic; it should include all aspects of a healthy mind, body and spirit. Critical to health is the ability to make smart choices in terms of wellness, which includes a healthy diet, exercise, positive social interactions and stress relieving activities. Emphasis must be placed on stress reduction because if it isn’t adequately managed, it can trigger a mired of health problems. One must ideally work towards achieving and maintaining a
    comfortable lifestyle which in the long run will facilitate better health
    outcomes.

  • Guest

    Health encompasses the physical, mental, socio-
    economic and emotional well being of an individual. Being healthy does not stipulate that the body is free of disease but also that the body is free of physical, emotional and environmental stressors. Being healthy also include having a “sound mind”, a mind that is free of all factors that predisposes it to be “out of balance”. Our brain controls the proper functioning of our body and when there are stressors in our lives and environment that cause the brain to deviate from its’ normal function this result in the body being “out of balance”.

    Health is wholistic; it should include all aspects of a healthy mind, body and spirit. Critical to health is the ability to make smart choices in terms of wellness, which includes a healthy diet, exercise, positive social interactions and stress relieving activities. Emphasis must be placed on stress reduction because if it isn’t adequately managed, it can trigger a mired of health problems. One must ideally work towards achieving and maintaining a
    comfortable lifestyle which in the long run will facilitate better health
    outcomes.

  • Tuong Vy Vu

    World Health Organization defined health as “a state of
    complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of
    disease or infirmity”. To extend on this definition of health, I want to
    add in that being “healthy” is a sense of power. It gives us the strength and
    the ability to move, function, and be able to accomplish a goal. Being
    “healthy” can also be a mental feeling. Health gives us the ability to reach an
    inner peace with our surrounding and with ourselves. It can also drive us to do
    things that we are incapable of doing. Like the ability to climb and reach
    mount Everest or the ability to swim across the Pacific Ocean. Health can also be
    in parallel to happiness. To feel at peace and have a sense of accomplishment
    will bring ones happiness. With that being said, to be healthy is to have the
    ability to live, to conquer, and to have harmony.

  • Holly S PB

    The World Health Organization’s definition of
    health is “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being
    and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. I believe this is a
    good starting point to finding a universal definition for health. I don’t
    believe the problem lies within defining health, as much as it is defining what
    ‘healthy’ is. I believe people hold ‘healthy’ to a subjective standard. A
    spiritual person, as aforementioned on previous posts, can feel completely
    healthy because they have lord on their side comforting them on a healing
    process. However, according to that person’s ailment, it will be obvious that
    he or she is not actually in good standing health. Just as the scientists sat
    around six decades ago pondering over the definition I believe it is proactive
    that we are making sure the definition is still up to date with our current
    technologies and beliefs. With that in mind, I believe the WHO formulated a
    perfect universal definition for health. If there is anything up for debate, I
    would think it would be the definition of a “healthy” person, but health is
    based on facts and science. Furthermore, finding a definitive explanation for a
    healthy lifestyle may be difficult to universalize. However, I believe the word
    “health” is objective in nature and I have no problems with the standing
    definition.

  • tina

    The definition of health is not limited to the absence of disease state but also, it is includes emotionally and spiritually well-beings as well as level of achievements to goals. Someone might not be in pain, sick, or depress but still might not feel completely well because one is not accomplishing the goals that one was anticipating.

  • S. Hernandez

    To say that someone who has the completeness of having physical, mental and social well-being in their life, is unrealistic. To be healthy is much more complex, there are many different factors that come into play such as spirituality and considering a persons emotional state, just to name a couple.

    An individual may be in good physical condition, nonetheless be
    mentally ill. Furthermore, one may seem healthy but have a serious condition, such as cancer, which may only be detected through a diagnostic test and not seen exteriorly.

    For example, I have seen some people who have a disease but yet interact with others and have great relationships with friends and family. They don’t fall into depression and shunt out the world because of what they are going through. They carry on with life carefree and are content, as if nothing serious has happened to them.

    Each individual out there functions differently. In some point of views, people would view “healthy” as someone who is educated, has social status, has no disease/illness, and other determinant factors. We see, act, and say different things thus, how can we place a definition so specific that will set a standard and depict the people?

    In my opinion, the definition should be altered
    in a way where it is fundamentally achievable for individuals.

  • Viral Parmar

    Health is defined as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” by the World health organization. Being healthy is not just stay disease free, but also a state of balance in other aspects as defined in WHO definition. In my opinion, I want to add one more important point to define health is spiritual well being. The technological advances of the past century changed the focus of medicine from a caring service oriented model to a technological cure-oriented model. We know that medicine research developed is past few years. Technology has led the advances in medicine and has given us the ability to prolong life. However, in the past few decades physicians have attempted to balance their care by adding prayers with current treatments. In my opinion, When we get sick, we have two paths to take, one is you tired of that disease or condition and complained about the own state of health and another pathway is to accept that hardship in own life and consider that condition as god’s good will for us. Healthy positive thinking is a very important part of treatment. There are so many cases around the world where people survived with the help of prayers. In conclusion, health should be defined as “a state of complete physical, mental, spiritual, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”.

  • Patricia Medina Rivera

    Health is “a state of complete
    physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or
    infirmity” as defined by the World Health Organization. When I first read this
    definition the first thing that comes to my mind is that to have a definition
    for all people, as stated in the article, we need to include factors that may
    help or may worsen the “state” of the concept in “all people”. When I think
    about health I think in resources, genetics, opportunities and understanding,
    the last one being for me the most important. When there is someone with a
    genetic disease it’s that person automatically unhealthy? I think that in this
    case where health it’s attached to genetics we should say that within the
    condition or disease the person is healthy, because it depends on that.
    Sometimes, and it is sad to say it, we all know that there is people that don’t
    have the resources nor the opportunities to afford health. Health in some
    countries (the vast majority) is directly related to affordability and that’s
    another factor to consider. Now, more important than the health professionals,
    the health agencies, the government, it is extremely important that people
    understands the definition of health. Since they are the one we are seeking
    health for. They need to understand what they have to do to be healthy, also
    they should know how to do it, when to do it and why. The article says that the
    aging population is increasing the prevalence of chronic incurable diseases. If
    we think a little bit about this population we all know that they need
    understanding and not just directions because at the end of the day they are
    the ones taking care of themselves. In my opinion we need a definition that
    states dependence of factors. For me the definition of health can be modified as “a state of complete physical, mental and social
    well- being, depending on external factors that may exist and not merely the
    absence of disease”.

  • Jayant Dhoalria

    Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social
    well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity -is the
    definition given by WHO. However, Just being healthy doesn’t define you as
    healthy person but there are few other factors which you have to consider and
    evaluate in order to stay healthy. Each and every person does have their own
    perspective to understand this term but according to me, recognition of that
    the positive attitude may impact the physical and mental environment of our body,Sometimes, mental stress plays an important
    role to maintain one’s health. Therefore, by keeping stress level down and perceiving
    a sense of piece may help to relax the blood vessels and that would immensely impact
    the mental state of health.

  • Guest

    To say that someone who has the completeness of having physical, mental and social well-being in their life, is unrealistic. To be healthy is much more complex, there are many different factors that come into play such as spirituality and considering a persons emotional state, just to name a couple.

    An individual may be in good physical condition, nonetheless be mentally ill. Furthermore, one may seem healthy but have a serious condition, such as cancer, which may only be detected through a diagnostic test and not seen exteriorly.

    For example, I have seen some people who have a disease but yet interact with others and have great relationships with friends and family. They don’t fall into depression and shunt out the world because of what they are going through. They carry on with life carefree and are content, as if nothing serious has happened to them.

    Each individual out there functionsdifferently. In some point of views, people would view “healthy” as someone who is educated, has social status, has no disease/illness, and other determinant factors. We see, act, and say different things thus, how can we place a definition so specific that will set a standard and depict the people?

    In my opinion, the definition should be altered in a way where it is fundamentally achievable for individuals.

  • NSU Pharmacy Student

    What is Health?

    Health is much more than just “the state of complete
    physical, social, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of
    disease or infirmity”. Health is the internal and external embodiment of an
    individual adapting to the many factors in life that impact our mental, social,
    emotional, physical, and intellectual lifestyles. Genetics and the environment
    we live in and those we surround ourselves with immensely impact our internal
    and external look on life. This influences what we eat, what we wear, how we
    think, how we act, and much more. Our health is a very complex state that is
    always changing due to our day to day interactions within and outside of our
    social circle. It is the ability for one to learn how to cope with the changes
    in a positive manner that allows us to be healthy individuals. As a healthcare
    professional, our health is also greatly influenced by the presence of a
    disease or illness which may be a temporary or long-term. Learning to cope with
    this either by getting the treatment necessary to help cure or maintain it
    illustrates what a healthy outcome would be.

  • denice zadeh

    Denice zadeh

    Definition of the health?

    I believe that health is a quality of life that is not easy
    to measure. In order to have a life that is truly fulfilling, one needs to be both
    physically and mentally healthy. In fact, one can even argue that a person’s mental state is
    more paramount. As I have seen in some cases involving cancer, certain
    individuals are able to persevere when bolstered by a positive outlook. I
    believe that a true state of well-being is when an individual is aware of her
    or his own abilities to adjust to the stresses of daily life. In addition, when one is being
    productive in regard to reaching the goals in her or his life, that person must
    also be aware of the cost of reaching these said goals. When one is able to
    delicately balance their life goals with the effort required to reach them,
    then that person has obtained a life that is not only harmonious, but is also
    healthy.

  • kanakavalli rajesh kumar

    Kanakavalli Rajesh Kumar

    Defining health in the current world scenario has become more complex. According me, we have moved from the stage of preventing infectious diseases to chronic diseases. But according to WHO, health definition seems to be mainly concentrated on physical, mental and social well-being and absence of disease. I think we would achieve that goal, if we would achieve equity in providing
    health to all. Only the rich people are able to afford quality health care when compared to the poor. This condition is worst in underdeveloped countries. So in my view, global health should be an area of study, research and practice, which should have priority as improving health of everybody irrespective of their status

  • J. DeGennaro

    In his book The Republic, Plato tried to define what justice is and never comes to one cohesive answer. This is due to each individual that is asked or discusses what justice is has their own perception and the discussion changing the others opinion in some form. The same could be said of the question that Alejandro Jadad and Laura O’Gradies ask in their article, How should health be defined.

    The WHO definition that the authors cite in the beginning of
    “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” is a very broad definition. However, it does not take into consideration the individuals opinions. For example, does a person with hypertension feel that they are unhealthy, does a mentally handicapped individual feel that they are unhealthy or does a downtrodden and
    abused person feel that they are unhealthy? Possibly, but their perceptions may be skewed as they may have always had these issues and they do not know any better. Perhaps the hypertensive is told they are unhealthy by some definition and this immediately causes them to have a stroke, the mentally handicapped person to lash out and hurt someone else or in the last example to revolt and
    end up dead. While these are far reaching examples it does illustrate the point that giving something an ultimate definition may cause everything else to be excluded or things to be included that do not necessarily have anything to do with the subject.

    The idea of defining what health is may be important for some
    aspects, and yes it is a wonderful idea that by defining something we can know it when we see it, however, is it actually possible? As Plato found in his work, the answer would be the same, no it is not possible to define something as intangible as justice, or in this case health. We can say what health is not, we can say what encompasses it and we can say things that promote or detract from it. However, we cannot say that this or that defines it. This ties
    into the original authors’ opinion of “all we can do is to frame the concept of health.” With all of this in mind, perhaps the definition that the WHO set out is appropriate for the purpose of a definition.

  • Emy Morales

    The World Health Organization (WHO) defined health as the “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Can this definition be acceptable at all times? In my opinion the definition as a whole cannot be maintained at all times. Why? The health of an individual can be altered when one of the three main factors that constitute it, get altered too. The physical, mental and social factors are and can be in fact exposed to environmental circumstances which may lead to change in the word of health itself. For example, an individual’s physical state can be disrupted just by simply falling off a skateboard and thus, breaking one of his legs. Pain and discomfort with the incident may lead to a change in his mental state; having to deal with an injury and possibly traumas. As for the mental state, many people lead normal lives but if they undergo a traumatic situation like watching a loved one die in a car accident or drowning then this could affect their mental state and also their social life; the person may not be able to go swimming again or drive a car. Although, many diseases can be preventable by taking the right precautions like vaccination, proper alimentation and exercise, among other things, in my opinion it is impossible to accomplish and maintain at all times the definition of health, not when certain things are out of our control.

  • Mike C

    Of course, the WHO’s definition of the concept of “health” is
    accurate in that it is “…not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” I think we all can agree on what it isn’t. What it IS, now that is a different
    story. It obviously includes how well
    our body is functioning and its ability to perform the tasks that are required
    to sustain life. Can this be
    measured? Is health something that we
    could give some sort of numerical value?
    There are some things that we give a numerical value that have a certain
    “healthy” range. Blood pressure, body
    mass index, blood glucose levels, creatinine clearance, liver function tests…
    all of these measures have a range of what is considered normal in a healthy
    individual. Could measures like these be
    compiled into some sort of overall health index that could be used to compare
    the health of one individual against another?
    I say yes, you could. However, if
    you did, you would be missing out on other measures of health that aren’t so
    easily calculated or measured when a patient is admitted to the hospital. How a person interacts with the world is also
    a vital part of their health, and ignoring that could leave you with just a
    panel of numbers to look at and make assumptions with. Emotional health, mental health, and social
    health can all be included as other dimensions of someone’s life that affect
    how “healthy” they are. Health is
    certainly a multidimensional measure, and you may not be able to assign a
    numerical value to these other dimensions of health very easily, although we do
    have tests like the mini-mental state exam (MMSE) that manages to put a
    numerical value on a person’s mental health.
    But what about emotional health?
    Social health? I’m not an expert,
    so I’ll leave that up for discussion.
    There may very well be an MMSE-ish tool that we can use for these other
    facets of health. No matter what tools we
    do have, I feel that the concept of “health” is too complex for anyone to ever
    create a metric on how healthy a person is in all of these different areas, and
    if someone does have the courage to create such a metric, it will always be up
    for debate. It would be as difficult as
    measuring an abstract concept like “happiness” or “friendliness.”

  • Heidy Rodríguez-Ramírez

    As mentioned in the article, “How Should Health be Defined” by Alejandro R. Jadad and Laura O’Grady, the WHO established the definition of health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”
    in 1948. As we analyze the definition, we notice that the word “complete” becomes a troubling portion of the definition since it gives the impression that in order to be healthy you will have to achieve the three states; say physical, mental, and social; in fullness. Therefore, we could easily interpret that a large percentage of the world population, not to say all, is ‘unhealthy’.

    As for my opinion, health should be treated as a mathematical equation that puts into perspective the extent that our surroundings affect our physical, mental and emotional state, and as a sum our well being. This could provide individualization and take into
    consideration that health, like beauty, is a measured by perspective and consequently, subjective.

  • J. DeGennaro

    In his book The Republic, Plato tried to define what justice is and never comes to one cohesive answer. This is due to each individual that is asked or discusses what justice is having their own perception and the discussion changing others opinions in some form. The same could be said of the question that Alejandro
    Jadad and Laura O’Gradies ask in their article, How should health be defined.

    The WHO definition that the authors cite in the beginning of
    “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” is a very broad definition. However, it does not take into consideration the individuals opinions. For example, does a person with hypertension feel that they are unhealthy, does a mentally handicapped individual feel that they are unhealthy or does a downtrodden and
    abused person feel that they are unhealthy? Possibly, but their perceptions may be skewed as they may have always had these issues and they do not know any better. Perhaps the hypertensive is told they are unhealthy by some definition and this immediately causes them to have a stroke, the mentally handicapped person to lash out and hurt someone else or in the last example to revolt and
    end up dead. While these are far reaching examples it does illustrate the point that giving something an ultimate definition may cause everything else to be excluded or things to be included that do not necessarily have anything to do with the subject.

    The idea of defining what health is may be important for some
    aspects, and yes it is a wonderful idea that by defining something we can know it when we see it, however, is it actually possible? As Plato found in his work, the answer would be the same, no it is not possible to define something as intangible as justice, or in this case health. We can say what health is not, we can say what encompasses it and we can say things that promote or detract from it. However, we cannot say that this or that defines it. This ties
    into the original authors’ opinion of “all we can do is to frame the concept of health.” With all of this in mind, perhaps the definition that the WHO set out is appropriate in most respects.

  • Kayla Mallare

    I think that the WHO definition of health needs to have the
    word “complete” omitted. A person can be happy, yet ill at the same time. Would that mean he or she is unhealthy? I appreciate the broad definition, as there are many factors that play into health.
    However, under the WHO’s definition, an elderly person who starts forgetting everyday activities would be considered unhealthy, even though they are in high spirits and both physically and socially well. Health needs to be looked at beyond the absence of disease. Having a disease shouldn’t automatically deem a
    person unhealthy. Most people do not have the whole package, but still feel healthy, in at least one of the categories. I think that the definition of health should be beyond the absence of disease and infirmity and a person’s social, mental, and social well-being. It should evaluate a person’s outlook on life.

  • Heidy Rodriguez

    As mentioned in the article, “How Should Health be Defined” by Alejandro R. Jadad and Laura O’Grady, the WHO established the definition of health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”
    in 1948. As we analyze the definition, we notice that the word “complete” becomes a troubling portion of the definition since it gives the impression that in order to be healthy you will have to achieve the three states; say physical, mental, and social; in fullness. Therefore, we could easily interpret that a large percentage of the world population, not to say all, is ‘unhealthy’.

    As for my opinion, health should be treated as a mathematical equation that puts into perspective the extent that our surroundings affect our physical, mental and emotional state, and as a sum our well being. This could provide individualization and take into
    consideration that health, like beauty, is a measured by perspective and consequently, subjectivivity.

  • Heidy Rodríguez-Ramírez

    As mentioned in the article, “How Should Health be Defined” by Alejandro R. Jadad and Laura O’Grady, the WHO established the definition of health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”
    in 1948. As we analyze the definition, we notice that the word “complete” becomes a troubling portion of the definition since it gives the impression that in order to be healthy you will have to achieve the three states; say physical, mental, and social; in fullness. Therefore, we could easily interpret that a large percentage of the world population, not to say all, is ‘unhealthy’.

    As for my opinion, health should be treated as a mathematical equation that puts into perspective the extent that our surroundings affect our physical, mental and emotional state, and as a sum our well being. This could provide individualization and take into consideration that health, like beauty, is a measured by perspective and consequently, subjective.

  • Theodore Elisme

    Theodore Elisme (NSU)

    WHO defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental
    and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.

    One may be of the inclination that
    the definition coined in 1948 by the WHO should and must remain as an ideal to
    be reached. It might not be attained in our lifetime since there are many
    challenges/hurdles to be overcome in order for all peoples to attain physical,
    mental and social wellbeing. It is further proposed by design that the
    above-mentioned definition should be the ceiling to attain and yet be fluid to
    allow, especially the emerging economy countries, to catch up to that
    definition.

    Those challenges range from
    antibiotic-resistant bacteria (i.e.: KPC and NMD-1) that threaten us worldwide;
    the supplies of food and water for the world are diminishing for the growing
    population. These hurdles pose stark problems not so much so to the
    well-developed countries to attain “physical well-being” but for the emerging economy
    constituents where the infrastructure is either ravaged by war or is
    nonexistent to allow their people to attain good physical health.

    Secondly, mental health as is
    grasped by certain cultures may have a totally different connotation to others
    in a different culture. It might not be in the design of a society to provide
    the framework for mental health particularly for children; I am not implying
    here that it is all right for adults not to have the support to rehabilitative mental
    health after disaster has struck. But it is consequently more disastrous for minors
    either during wars or major natural disasters not to have a rehabilitative
    structure to help them understand the events that took place.

    To piggyback on the questions asked by Drs. Jadad
    and O’Grady, can any definition of health be operational? It is a difficult
    endeavor to define health if we impose cultural constrains to a culture. It is
    believed that in the design of the definition of health, the component of
    fluidity should be present. Each society needs to attain that ceiling
    (definition above) set by the WHO on its own. The WHO as the leader should
    provide guidance. If done in such a fashion, it is probable that each society
    will be empowered toward that making the definition operational to their
    community.

  • Prashant Koyani

    Health is the level of functional or metabolic efficiency of a
    living organism. The World Health Organization (WHO) defined health as “a
    state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the
    absence of disease or infirmity.” The English word “health”
    comes from the Old English word hale, meaning “wholeness, being whole,
    sound or well. Health is a positive concept emphasizing social and personal
    resources, as well as physical capacities. According to Medilexicon’s medical
    dictionary, health is “A philosophy of life and personal hygiene that
    views health as not merely the absence of illness but the full realization of
    one’s physical and mental potential, as achieved through positive attitudes,
    fitness training, a diet low in fat and high in fiber, and the avoidance of
    unhealthful practices (smoking, drug and alcohol abuse, overeating)”. The
    word health means different things to different people, depending on the
    situation. I also believe that health should also be viewed on a continuum
    where individuals must balance factors such as environmental, psychological
    influences, social factors in order to preserve quality of life.

  • Tatiana Cruz Garcia

    Tatiana Cruz Garcia

    What is health?

    When we talk about health is difficult to find a definition that
    covers all the aspect of this term. For that reason there are different
    definitions about it. According to the World Health Organization: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Bircher said, “Health is a dynamic state of well being characterized by a physical, mental and social potential, which satisfies the demand of a life commensurate with age, culture, and personal responsibility.”
    To me, health is quality of life; were a person has a stable well being in the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual aspects; the key to obtain a full happiness. This term could be seen like a subjective instrument that denotes the absence of illness. The word health could be defined like the science that handles the individuals in their optimal conditions. A person is considered healthy if he/she has the ability of doing all his or her activities in a functional way.

  • Rachel Comito

    The word health can have several depths of meaning. Health not
    only encompasses the absence of illness, but also deals with an individual’s level of physical and mental well-being. Despite its important role in everyday life, the concept of health remains elusive and broadly connected. It is a unique concept that is constantly evolving and will perhaps never be fully understood. Our health can be influenced by numerous factors including
    genetics, environmental elements, economic status, and individual behavior.Therefore, these factors must be taken into account when determining the causes and prevention of disease. Access to appropriate health care also expands the definition of health by embracing the professionals who care for patients. The current emphasis on communication, technology, health promotion, and health literacy, will further advance the definition of health and magnify its benefits worldwide. Health is unity among the mind, body, and spirit, and is unique to each person; therefore, how one individual defines health may be different from others. Finally, health is a subjective homeostasis that fluctuates between well-being and illness.

  • NSU – LNg

    For more than 60 years since 1948, the current definition of health made by WHO has never changed. It is defined as “[1]Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. Even there are lots of other definitions about health, this is meanwhile the most acceptable one being used as a source for developing medical guidelines, public health campaigns, pharmaceutical goals of developing drugs or techniques,… across the world[2]. However, is this definition still applicable for the current world which has dramatically changed after the World War II. Diseases are shifting from acute infectious to chronic ones such as hypertension, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, … These diseases can’t be cured, however, they can be well managed and
    controlled if the patients take good cares of themselves and adhere to lifestyle changes or treatments. If that is the case, there will be millions of people being in good conditions are defined as unhealthy according to WHO. Will they feel encouraged or comfortable to be called sick patients for the rest of their lives? Will being considered ill improve the patients’ conditions or vice versa just make them worse? It might take lots of time, effort and studies to figure out the sensible answers for those questions. However, it clearly proves that the current definition of health is not comprehensive and needs to be modified. [3]Health being lately referred as “the ability to adapt and to self-manage”
    is a good and more appropriate concept because it loosens the unnecessary barriers lasting for so long a time such as the one being stated above.

    1. Definition of Health (WHO)
    2. Huber M. et al. BMJ 2011;343:d4163.
    3.Health Council of the Netherlands. Publication A10/04 http://www.gezondheidsraad.nl/sites/default/files/bijlage%20A1004_1.pdf.

  • Missy

    Health is a complicated subject. According to the article “How
    should Health Be Defined”, the word is described as “a state of complete mental, emotional, and social well- being not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. I believe the article opens the concept of health and how it is impacted by a variety of factors. Health does in fact reflect not only the status and well being of the individual but reflects society as a whole. In fact, the frequency of certain diseases such as Cholera can reflect the sanitation practices of a culture, economic status, and knowledge
    of disease prevention (ie. closed sewage system). In addition, vaccines are important within different communities because it can provide herd immunity and keep a population healthy. Finally, health has a spiritual aspect that is often ignored in Western medicine. Often times we break the body down into shifts and
    gears by treating the symptoms of the illness. Instead, as the article shows, we should look see health in its totality and understand the mental and emotional aspects of maintaining health. Instead of health only being a concern in times of illness, it should be status we “maintain” through proper nutrition, exercise, and activities that promote a balanced, positive mental state. Therefore, I believe this article opens up dialog for the complex subject of health and is overall very positive.

  • Ryan Dunn

    In my opinion, the definition of health is not easily defined.
    Health is such a broad and subjective definition. The definition put forth by
    the World Health Organization comes off very academic and outdated to me. It
    fails to include the complexity of today’s society. The current definition was written
    in 1948, before the Internet was even a thought in anyone’s head. We as a
    people are so hardwired into what is happening on the Internet with a 24 hour
    news cycle, Twitter, Facebook, and every other option of social media. I feel
    like the current definition should include something about one’s virtual
    health. It may sound funny to say but It is something that needs to be considered.
    I know people who have had serious mental breakdowns over something that has
    happened on Facebook, or a comment on their YouTube video. I also think that
    “health” may be just a personal thing. I could have hypertension that
    is being adequately controlled and consider myself healthy. Someone else may be
    in the exact same situation as me and feel they are not healthy. So what really
    defines health? I honestly don’t know, and I don’t think anyone else really has
    the perfect definition.

  • frank jean NSU

    In my opinion, being healthy is being able to experience life through all of your senses.
    Biologist define the term symbiosis as a mutual interaction between an organism and it’s environment. The environment constantly act upon us and in turn we react on our environment. A healthy individual is someone that’s able to engage in this mutual relationship with full physical and mental vigor.
    furthermore, health is liveliness, vitality, the ability to feel and reflect energy from our body with each breath taken.

  • Janet Simon

    The biggest component of life and health is happiness. WHO’s
    definition of health “Health is a state of complete physical, mental
    and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” embodies this idea. The absence of disease doesn’t guarantee
    human wellbeing, and because of this, it was necessary to expand the
    definition. Physical, mental and social wellbeing are equally important when
    defining health (and therefore, happiness). Lack of physical wellbeing
    (disease, pain, inflammation, etc.) can easily compromise a favorable health
    state. This of course, is the most obvious example. However, we cannot forget
    about the importance of mental and social wellbeing. We live in our brain. The
    way we see and feel the world is through our minds. It is therefore impossible
    to absorb the human state without a clear mind. Every day problems, mistakes
    and adversities easily get in the way and rob us of optimal health. Social
    wellbeing cannot be undermined, either. We are social creatures, and we suffer
    at the sight of loneliness. To prove the importance of social and mental
    wellbeing, most humans would opt for these two before the ”literal health”:
    physical wellbeing. Unfortunately, neither of the three can truly exist with
    the absence of another. Our best chance at health, and therefore happiness, is
    to work on these three aspects of wellbeing on a daily basis. Eat well,
    exercise, work on building relationships, think happy thoughts, and hope for
    the best.

  • James

    “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

    It seems to me no one has really thought about what health means until recently if it took this long to come up with a satisfactory definition. Now that people have thought extensively about it, I’d say the definition of health is safe to last for at least another 60 years. It is a great reflection on society as a whole to come up with this definition. It shows the move away from one mindset and towards another, newer, arguably better mindset.

    I’m James Clinard and I approve this message.

  • Junitza Milagros Ortiz Charles

    The
    concept of health could have many definitions in order to how a person could
    describe itself as a healthy individual in terms of how they feel. According to
    World Health Organization, the health is more focused on presence or absence of
    disease. The need that Jadad and O’Grady perceive, in my opinion, was focused
    on give a more diverse definition of health in where there’s more flexibility
    to define a person as a healthy individual, more than a definition that
    describes no disease state. For Jadad and O’Grady, the health is a state of
    complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of
    disease or infirmity. This definition
    focus on health as equilibrium between physical, psychological and social
    environment, and not a close approach based on illness.

  • aspiring pharmacist

    “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and
    social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. Health is a neutral term which describes the immediate state of well-being of living things/people. It asks the question what is the current status. Being considered as healthy or not is where the complexity lies. Is it now that we can say being considered healthy is “the absence of disease” or are there other factors that determine being healthy. Being healthy may be considered the degree in which one’s state of mind and body functions within the normal status (range of functions),which is shaped by one’s culture and beliefs and at a certain point in time, whereas being considered unhealthy is the deviation from that predetermined standard norm/status at a certain point in time. There are many factors and complexities that affect coining a standard definition of health but what is common is that it describes/states ones status whether it be healthy or not.

  • Cyntra Sooknanan

    Defining the word “Health” is like asking a philosophical question; “Health” can have a variety of meanings and its definition depends on who is asked to define it. Throughout my life experiences I have seen many people who have suffered from many ailments have a stronger mental mindset than individuals without disease. For instance, Nick Vujicic is an inspirational speaker who was told he would amount to nothing because he was born without arms or legs. Throughout his life he persevered and proved others wrong, Nick is able to put on his own clothes, has even learnt to swim and he continues to go beyond limits society has confined him to. He refuses to be any less and he is fueled by determination to be a better person. On the other hand, there are many individuals who society would classify as healthy and they are not happy and are struggling to find the will to go on. My point is that health is a versatile concept in which most people can choose the kind of life they want to live.

  • TRANG LE

    At the first time I read WHO’s health definition, “Health is a state of
    complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” It sounded very nice to me, but actually I do not understand what is a “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being.” Everybody has own definition of health. My definition of health is very simple. When I am healthy, I can study better. I can contribute myself in more extracurricular
    activities. I can go to places I want. I can live longer with people who I love. Therefore, I think that health is a gift. However, I also think that health is a result of genetics and daily habits. If you are lucky to inherit your family’s “good genes,” you more likely have less disease or illness than others. Furthermore, if you know how to live a healthy life in which you exercise every day, eat a nutrient food, and know how to entertain yourself. You will become a healthy one. Even though you do not have a “good genes,” you still can compensate it by balancing your life: diet, exercise, and keep yourself relaxed (not over-stressed). However, I agrees with
    WHO that being healthy does not mean that you are free from disease or infirmity, but it means that you know how to take care yourself, and your disease is under control.

  • Husein Ghrouf

    Growing up, the definition of health, which was in taught in school, was that it is the absence of disease or infirmity. That was because this was the definition originally formulated about what health is. This made sense to me because without disease or infirmity, then you should feel well in your physical state and happy among society. Yes, it is true that diseases, such as an outbreak of a contagious bacteria, can occur and cause many people to get sick. However, not everyone will get sick. Throughout society, not everyone will be happy, especially those that are sick and others who are worried about getting sick.

    This helped me understand the phrase “a state of complete physical, social, and mental well-being” a little better, as it was added to the definition of Health. I believe that it takes into consideration a societal aspect on what health should be, rather than just a person-by-person basis.

  • Theodore Elisme

    Theodore Elisme (NSU)

    WHO defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental
    and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.

    One may be of the inclination that
    the definition coined in 1948 by the WHO should and must remain as an ideal to
    be reached. It might not be attained in our lifetime since there are many
    challenges/hurdles to be overcome in order for all peoples to attain physical,
    mental and social wellbeing. It is further proposed by design that the
    above-mentioned definition should be the ceiling to attain and yet be fluid to
    allow, especially the emerging economy countries, to catch up to that
    definition.

    Those challenges range from
    antibiotic-resistant bacteria (i.e.: KPC and NMD-1) that threaten us worldwide;
    the supplies of food and water for the world are diminishing for the growing
    population. These hurdles pose stark problems not so much so to the
    well-developed countries to attain “physical well-being” but for the emerging economy
    constituents where the infrastructure is either ravaged by war or is
    nonexistent to allow their people to attain good physical health.

    Secondly, mental health as is
    grasped by certain cultures may have a totally different connotation to others
    in a different culture. It might not be in the design of a society to provide
    the framework for mental health particularly for children; I am not implying
    here that it is all right for adults not to have the support to rehabilitative mental
    health after disaster has struck. But it is consequently more disastrous for minors
    either during wars or major natural disasters not to have a rehabilitative
    structure to help them understand the events that took place.

    To piggyback on the questions asked by Drs. Jadad
    and O’Grady, can any definition of health be operational? It is a difficult
    endeavor to define health if we impose cultural constrains to a culture. It is
    believed that in the design of the definition of health, the component of
    fluidity should be present. Each society needs to attain that ceiling
    (definition above) set by the WHO on its own. The WHO as the leader should
    provide guidance. If done in such a fashion, it is probable that each society
    will be empowered toward that making the definition operational to their
    community.

  • Guest

    Everyday humans
    are striving to invent new ways to counter health problems. WHO defines “health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. According to me, I believe that being healthy means an equal balance between emotional, physical and mental state of
    well being. If any one of the aspects is disturbed, the others tend to be affected, just like if any person is in trouble, his/her family members are going to be affected by it. A person’s health is bound to get affected daily, because of all the chores and responsibilities, each person has. We can work hard to maintain our health, like doing physical activity, bonding, social gatherings, meditation, spiritualism etc, but still it‘ll not be enough. At times, there are unfortunate circumstances which are not in our control like cancer, accidents, natural calamities, etc. Another important thing is an individual’s behavior towards any situation, so it also depends on how any respective person perceives various things around them. Having a positive outlook is very important. Have we not heard of people being cured
    from cancer, by being positive, apart from all the medications and chemotherapy? A doctor always advice a patient to be positive and not to lose hope. To sum it up, I believe that there are various factors which contribute to a good health and it is important to draw everyone’s attention to it.

  • Danielle Lerch

    Prior to my experience in Pharmacy school I had always believed
    that the World Health Organization’s definition of “health” was pretty
    accurate. They defined health as a “state of complete physical, mental and
    social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Although
    I believe that this definition does a fairly good job at trying to define a
    very abstract concept I think there is much more to health versus the one
    sentence we are given. As my knowledge continues to grow through my experiences
    I think this definition of health is very restricted. I believe that “health” is
    subjective in nature and its definition changes to fit the specific situation
    and “who” is defining the word “health.” I also believe that health is often
    compared to values/numbers (lab values from the doctor) and signs/symptoms of an
    individual versus a definition of words. We as a society have set a “rubric”
    per se of things we qualify as “healthy” and if you fall into that category you
    can be deemed a healthy individual. Health is also a process and something that
    is consistent through one’s life and not something to be restricted to a
    certain time frame. I had never really thought of defining it as a continuous process
    before sitting down to work on this assignment. Many times I have encountered
    situations where we deem people “unhealthy” by something we observe from a
    specific time in their life, not their overall health. The nature of this topic
    is very difficult to put in to words and I felt my own definition was
    inadequate so I began doing some research and asked those around me how they
    would define health. All those that I asked had a difficult time putting in to
    words a concrete definition, but all somewhat agreed that it cannot be confined
    into just the presence/absence of a disease or illness. A lot of the common
    themes I got from people included: mental health, physical health, spiritual
    health, emotional health, social health, and environmental health. That it has
    to do with the mind and body as a whole and how you as an individual feel and
    what you deem healthy. Health may also be an ever changing thing where its definition
    has to evolve as our society evolves.

  • Guest

    Everyday humans
    are striving to invent new ways to counter health problems. WHO defines “health
    as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely
    the absence of disease or infirmity”. According to me, I believe that being
    healthy means an equal balance between emotional, physical and mental state of
    well being. If any one of the aspects is disturbed, the others tend to be
    affected, just like if any person is in trouble, his/her family members are
    going to be affected by it. A person’s health is bound to get affected daily,
    because of all the chores and responsibilities, each person has. We can work hard to maintain our health, like doing
    physical activity, bonding, social gatherings, meditation, spiritualism etc,
    but still it‘ll not be enough. At times, there are unfortunate circumstances
    which are not in our control like cancer, accidents, natural calamities, etc. Another
    important thing is an individual’s behavior towards any situation, so it also
    depends on how any respective person perceives various things around them. Having
    a positive outlook is very important. Have we not heard of people being cured
    from cancer, by being positive, apart from all the medications and
    chemotherapy? A doctor always advice a patient to be positive and not to lose
    hope. To sum it up, I believe that there are various factors which contribute
    to a good health and it is important to draw everyone’s attention to it.

  • Daniel Diaz

    Defining health could be a very challenging task, and I am
    grateful to the authors for initiating such a movement. I believe “health” is perceived
    differently from person to person. Health is not only confined to just the absence
    of disease or illness. Health is also the state of mind in which an individual
    is happy with his or her existence. In society, health is often defined as the
    ability to function socially, physically, and mentally. The definition of
    health is an ever changing concept and as dynamic as the effort and process of
    staying healthy. It may be influenced by culture or science. In the past, being
    a little chubby was considered healthy. Who did not have a grandma that would
    give you ice cream every 3 hours in the summer time because it was nutritious? And,
    yes, she still does. However, nowadays, our perception of healthy has changed.
    We like or try to eat real healthy food and exercise. Also, the concept of
    healthy has adopted a more holistic sense, especially for the western world.

  • Randi Agata

    I believe that the definition of health by the WHO is very
    accurate as it involves all characteristics that determine an individual’s well-being: physical, mental and social (emotional). Personally, I feel my healthiest when all these characteristics are in balance however, other people may not feel that way. Some people may feel healthiest based on physical measures and others may feel healthiest based on emotional measures. Therefore, an individual’s definition of health can tend to be subjective and based on habits and practices as well as even cultural beliefs. Nonetheless, on a whole, if they are not in balance they truly cannot be considered healthy. For example, one can exercise every day, be disease-free yet not be able to deal with normal everyday activities and this
    can deem them (mentally or socially) unhealthy. Health should not be limited to physical but must include an individual’s mental and
    emotional/social condition – their overall quality of life.

  • Betty Pazhayattil

    In 1948, WHO
    defined health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being
    and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. Sixty five
    years later, this definition still has a strong meaning. But in the world that
    we live in today, it is hard to define an abstract concept like health. So each
    person starts to define it in their own way. To a mom, whose daughter is a Pharm.
    D Student at Nova Southeastern University, getting five hours of sleep while
    being in Pharmacy School and working as a Pharmacy Intern, is unhealthy. Her
    daughter might be void of disease and be physically healthy, but according to
    the mom, the lack of sleep and the added stress from school and work could
    affect her mental well-being. At the same time, mental health may just mean the
    absence of mental illness to some people. When one mentions health, the first
    idea that comes to my mind is physical health. If we picture someone who eats
    very healthy, works out every day and has a very low body-fat, can we define
    this person as being in a state of complete physical well-being? What if this
    person smokes cigarettes once in a while and drinks a few glasses of wine occasionally?
    The answer is that it depends. Also, as new technologies and new studies are
    being developed on a daily basis, it is hard to keep up with what being healthy
    means. Sometimes a person may be looking physically, mentally and socially well
    but find out that they have cancer the next week. There are studies that show
    that eating meat and consuming dairy products may increase the risk of cancer.
    Being vegan is highly promoted these days, while some studies suggest that meat
    and dairy is essential for our diet. The more we think about the idea of what
    being healthy means, the more we realize how complex it is. To me, being
    healthy may not mean the complete sense of what WHO defines it as. To me, it is
    being the best you can and taking care of your body. Everything in moderation
    and at the right balance and enjoying life may be the first step to being
    healthy.

  • Rachel Comito

    The word health can have several depths of meaning. Health not
    only encompasses the absence of illness, but also deals with an individual’s level of physical and mental well-being. Despite its important role in everyday life, the concept of health remains elusive and broadly connected. It is a unique concept that is constantly evolving and will perhaps never be fully understood. Our health can be influenced by numerous factors including genetics, environmental elements, economic status, and individual behavior. Therefore, these factors must be taken into account when determining the causes and prevention of disease. Access to appropriate health care also expands the definition of health by embracing the professionals who care for patients. The current emphasis on communication, technology, health promotion, and health literacy, will further advance the definition of health and magnify its benefits worldwide. Health is unity among the mind, body, and spirit, and is unique to each person; therefore, how one individual defines health may be different from others. Finally, health is a subjective homeostasis that fluctuates between well-being and illness.

  • Lcapo

    I personally agree with the established definition of health published to the WHO established in 1948 as it was adequate for that time period. In the 70′s with the emergence of HIV/AIDS certain patients started arising that did not fit the established definition of being healthy. If you have HIV, you initially feel healthy hence fitting the definition and oftentimes you cannot tell that you are a carrier. Only when you start developing AIDS do the symptoms become prevalent due to a defective immune system, and you develop the disease form. During this entire time period you are able to transmit the HIV virus to other individuals, before one is even aware that they are a carrier. In the regular sense the HIV carrier feels healthy, but in reality they need to be closely monitored and aware of their disease state so that they can prevent it spreading further and progressing into AIDS. Now in the modern sense, the old definition does not fit any more. As we have become more knowledgeable about disease states, not only do we worry and treat for symptoms, but we also care for preventing the spread of a disease. .

  • Theodore Elisme

    Theodore Elisme

    WHO defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental
    and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.

    One may be of the inclination that
    the definition coined in 1948 by the WHO should and must remain as an ideal to be reached. It might not be attained in our lifetime since there are many challenges/hurdles to be overcome in order for all peoples to attain physical, mental and social wellbeing. It is further proposed by design that the above-mentioned definition should be the ceiling to attain and yet be fluid to allow, especially the emerging economy countries, to catch up to that
    definition.

    Those challenges range from antibiotic-resistant bacteria (i.e.: KPC and NMD-1) that threaten us worldwide; the supplies of food and water for the world are diminishing for the growing
    population. These hurdles pose stark problems not so much so to the well-developed countries to attain “physical well-being” but for the emerging economy constituents where the infrastructure is either ravaged by war or is nonexistent to allow their people to attain good physical health.

    Secondly, mental health as is grasped by certain cultures may have a totally different connotation to others in a different culture. It might not be in the design of a society to provide the framework for mental health particularly for children; I am not implying here that it is all right for adults not to have the support to rehabilitative mental health after disaster has struck. But it is consequently more disastrous for minors either during wars or major natural disasters not to have a rehabilitative structure to help them understand the events that took place.

    To piggyback on the questions asked by Drs. Jadad and O’Grady, can any definition of health be operational? It is a difficult endeavor to define health if we impose cultural constraints to a
    culture. It is believed that in the design of the definition of health, the component of fluidity should be present. Each society needs to attain that ceiling (definition above) set by the WHO on its own. The WHO as the leader should provide guidance. If done in such a fashion, it is probable that each society will be empowered toward making the definition operational to their
    community.

  • Ami G

    Ami Gopal
    NSU
    Pharmacy Student

    The World Health
    Organization came up with a wonderful definition for the word “health”. I liked how the WHO put together the
    different views and aspects of health and created a well-constructed statement. Others will argue on if health is correctly
    defined by WHO or if there is even a way to describe health in just a few words. Health is a very abstract, and in depth concept. In my eyes, I believe that both the WHO and the article have a good point in defining health. Although I agree with the ending of the article, health is something that can be attainable and describes our state of well-being. Health, being such a small word, is really complex and can be associated with a number of criteria. Health can be physical and can be mental. One area in which I do not support the WHOs words are when they say there is an absence of disease. Someone with a disease can still be healthy as long as they are doing the pro-actively going forth and doing the best things possible being in their condition. As long as they are not being passive, then I would consider them to be in good health. Also, if the person is in active shape with no disease and take control of their own-being then I would say they are healthy as well. There are numerous ways to define health and
    I am certain that no one will be satisfied with just one definition. Everyone will have different thoughts and ideas and it will be very hard to satisfy everyone’s minds.

  • Aimy Nedumparambil

    Annie Aimy Nedumparambil
    NOVA Southeastern University
    Pharm.D. Student

    Health according to the World Health Organization is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Health can be perceived differently by each individual. The definition of health merely depends on a personal stand point of an individual. Some suggests that WHO should consider changing the definition they have stated for health, which has not been modified since 1948. I have to agree with the individuals who are fighting to modify the definition of health given by WHO. In my point of view, health cannot just be the ‘complete’ well-being of a person. If health really is a complete state of a person’s physical, mental and social well-being, none of us can be healthy according the definition. My definition of health may be different from what your see health should be; it all depends on how it is perceived by the individual.

  • Brian M. Colon-Robles

    As a student pharmacist and future healthcare professional,
    I think the definition of health by the World Health Organization “Health is a
    state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence
    of disease or infirmity” needs to be more specific and developed. Health is a big term and is very difficult to
    define it in a few words. Health is a
    well -structured term and having a very short definition is challenging to the
    people to understand, specifically the patients. The definition of health should
    be explained in simple words so that the patient understands and can put it
    into practice to stay healthy. On the other hand, I think this definition is
    more directed to the healthcare professionals; although many of them around the
    world do not put the definition in practice. In many small countries, where
    health care is not very developed, for example in Puerto Rico, they think that
    health is only a welfare state in the absence of a disease. As we see is a poor definition and never will
    promote people’s health. However, besides being a poor health definition,
    healthcare providers are not doing anything to improve health. In my opinion, health must be well defined
    and implemented in hospitals, pharmacies and other health care centers to
    promote health at every moment. The definition of health has to be health
    -promoting in all sense.

    Finally, I think the definition should be
    updated and be more focused on the patient, so they can stay healthy and try to
    decrease the mortality rate due to chronic diseases. No one is perfect, health vary in different
    areas of the world, improvement is a big thing.

  • Betty Pazhayattil

    In 1948, WHO
    defined health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being
    and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. Sixty five
    years later, this definition still has a strong meaning. But in the world that
    we live in today, it is hard to define an abstract concept like health. So each
    person starts to define it in their own way. To a mom, whose daughter is a Pharm.
    D Student at Nova Southeastern University, getting five hours of sleep while
    being in Pharmacy School and working as a Pharmacy Intern, is unhealthy. Her
    daughter might be void of disease and be physically healthy, but according to
    the mom, the lack of sleep and the added stress from school and work could
    affect her mental well-being. At the same time, mental health may just mean the
    absence of mental illness to some people. When one mentions health, the first
    idea that comes to my mind is physical health. If we picture someone who eats
    very healthy, works out every day and has a very low body-fat, can we define
    this person as being in a state of complete physical well-being? What if this
    person smokes cigarettes once in a while and drinks a few glasses of wine occasionally?
    The answer is that it depends. Also, as new technologies and new studies are
    being developed on a daily basis, it is hard to keep up with what being healthy
    means. Sometimes a person may be looking physically, mentally and socially well
    but find out that they have cancer the next week. There are studies that show
    that eating meat and consuming dairy products may increase the risk of cancer.
    Being vegan is highly promoted these days, while some studies suggest that meat
    and dairy is essential for our diet. The more we think about the idea of what
    being healthy means, the more we realize how complex it is. To me, being
    healthy may not mean the complete sense of what WHO defines it as. To me, it is
    being the best you can and taking care of your body. Everything in moderation
    and at the right balance and enjoying life may be the first step to being
    healthy.

  • MC

    In a sense, being healthy pertains to a physical and mental status fit for maximal daily performance outcomes. What if someone is indeed ill, and because of will power, spiritual or otherwise, commands a chain of events that eventually give rise to a cure? Health is a network of ideas. Individuals who practice medicine and science believe that health is about maintaining a proper internal body structure with proper nutrients that reinforce all our mechanisms of defense against outside sources. Individuals who practice in the arts and cultures strongly expose that the external appearance of the human form indicates advantages (health) or struggles (lack of health) happening within which guides us through observations to find probable causes of disharmony. Finally, individuals who engage themselves in the study of spirituality and history may think that health is only the beginning of a much greater truth that we might never truly be able to record in time. From my point of view, health is both a subjective and objective idea: science and medicine grant us with choices on treatment protocols; our global variety in art and culture makes us realize that there are many ways one can misjudge what is seen as normal or diseased state in different parts of the world; and manuscripts, books, articles, history itself teach us not to take anything recorded for granted given that only through documentation of past experiences we will be able to extract information with higher level of understanding to inspire others to stay actively healthy.

  • Karen Piazza

    The WHO defined health like this: is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and
    not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Additional to this definition,
    health also is the capacity of the human being that is capable of takes care of
    himself in different way including the emotions. Be in good health is necessary
    for live a good and happy life. Be healthy include eat well, do exercise, go to
    the doctor, take the adequate medications and being good with others. Health is
    a simple term that begins with your decision of be healthy on make the right choice
    for your good, for your health. We need to promote healthy things that will
    create more healthy people. This fight to promote health is of everyone, we
    need to start in home, school and community to promotes healthy life that will conduce to a better quality
    of life.

  • Erica Ferreris

    Based on WHO, health is defined as “a state of complete
    physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.

    Health is a very complicated topic, and can vary among
    people, culture and nations. For my perspective, the definition of health is one that is fully complete but in most cases is unreachable.

    Health is more about the people point of view, their culture,
    their attitudes to a disease, and the desire to feel or not better. You can reach complete health, but just for a period of time in your life.

    The definition should be more specific and consider the
    changes that this world has passed. Although is very difficult to define health, I think that they should take in consideration the population baseline of health and their culture, because sometimes people can have a disease and they feel well, at the point to describe themselves as healthy individuals.

    In conclusion, health is a very subjective topic that can be
    describe in different manners by a diverse of people around the world; and although they change or not the definition, there will always be discrepancies between opinions.

  • Ariel Jordan

    I think the World Health Organization’s definition of health is very broad. Intentional or not, having a broad definition gives people the opportunity to develop their own personal meaning. Everyone has some form of stress in their life-school, work, family, etc. Health is not just about being physically healthy and having a body mass index that falls within a socially-acceptable range. Health is not just concerned with how high an individual can score on an IQ test or whether they are feeling depressed and should be put on medication. It is not focused on Twitter followers or getting an invitation to the popular party. It is about balance. Having good health is being able to balance all physical, mental and social elements of an active life. When one side gets too weighed down, the other sides get off balanced and a person is no longer in good health. Each aspect of the World Health Organization’s definition of health is as equally important as the others in order to maintain a sense of personal well-being and fellowship within the community at large.

  • Melissa Veulens

    Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a
    state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. This definition ties in many aspects of health that the average person overlooks. Your physical well-being would usually be the first thought to come to mind when asked about your state of health; but this is only a piece of it. Your relationships with others, feelings of self-worth, social acceptance and the ability to have a clear mind are just a few of the other factors that contribute to someone’s health. Most importantly,
    your physical, mental, and social well-being can all influence one another. A solid foundation is needed in all three of these aspects of health, because without this, there can be no stability to your health.

  • Ryan Dunn

    In my opinion, the definition of health is not easily defined. Health is
    such a broad and subjective definition. The definition put forth by the
    World Health Organization comes off very academic and outdated to me.
    It fails to include the complexity of today’s society. The current
    definition was written in 1948, before the Internet was even a thought
    in anyone’s head. We as a people are so hardwired into what is happening
    on the Internet with a 24 hour news cycle, Twitter, Facebook, and every
    other option of social media. I feel like the current definition should
    include something about one’s virtual health. It may sound funny to say
    but It is something that needs to be considered. I know people who have
    had serious mental breakdowns over something that has happened on
    Facebook, or a comment on their YouTube video. I also think that
    “health” may be just a personal thing. I could have hypertension that is
    being adequately controlled and consider myself healthy. Someone else
    may be in the exact same situation as me and feel they are not healthy.
    So what really defines health? I honestly don’t know, and I don’t think
    anyone else really has the perfect definition

  • Ronak Padriya

    While the previous definition of
    health by the World Health Organization may seem outdated and in need of
    revision, I believe no one can formulate one concrete definition of
    health. The basis of health is to
    maintain one’s body and prevent the on come of disease. However, this is merely a novel definition of
    health and looking at the term in only one perspective. The word in its entirety has many dimensions
    and thus requires a deeper explanation, which can be substantiated by defining
    health as physical and mental stability and security of a person.

    Over the course of humanity,
    human health has been attributed to spirituality (or a greater force), Freudian
    psychological effects, and the classic anatomical attack by microbes and other
    microscopic organisms. As it can be
    noted, the definition of health is always evolving. Early humans began defining health as being
    one with God; those who sinned were unhealthy and corrupt while those who serviced
    God were in perfect shape and on a righteous life path. They believed that if you were sick, it was
    because you had it coming and or were possessed by some sort of demonic
    spirit. Eventually, society moved away
    from this notion and began venturing into medical science and realized that it
    wasn’t a great force that caused fluctuations in health, if anything it was smaller
    forces, those of bacteria and viruses. Later,
    Freud came up with a psychological approach to health; everything was
    mental. Freud proposed the idea that
    your mental state directly affected your physical health; if you believed you
    were sick you were, but truly it’s all in your head.

    It is obvious that there are many
    aspects to health, and while the definition of health is ever evolving, one
    definition is not better than another.
    It is a collaborative effort between all the various facets of the human
    being that defines what health truly compromises. The World Health Organization’s definition of
    health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not
    merely the absence of disease or infirmity” is not entirely incorrect. This definition truly does do justice to the
    word “health” because it encompasses all the parts that are involved in a
    human’s life that affects their mood and behavior. Although, I can agree that the removal of
    “complete” is necessary, as it sets an incredible standard for health.

  • Cullen Adre

    Health. Is it simply a lack of disease? Should the
    definition be stretched to not only include physical but mental and social well being, according to the WHO? In my opinion, it must be included. Without a high mental and social well being to compliment a healthy physical status a person cannot be truly considered “healthy.” If a person is constantly under stress and cooped up in their dark apartment alone with no social contact and mentally
    fatiguing, no matter how physically healthy they are, they would not be seen as having an image of complete health. It could be compared to a machine being mechanically sound and working (healthy body) but if there is no one to operate it (having a mental well-being) it cannot operate to it’s full potential. Despite some rejecting this new definition of health and saying that it puts
    society in “a constant state of poor health”, in reality it gives society a goal to strive towards, to reword Thomas Jefferson, a “pursuit of healthiness.” It changes people’s perceptions and no longer will society be satisfied with the status quo, people will be encouraged
    to constantly improve all aspects of their lives (physically, mentally, and socially). Especially with the progression of modern technology there are more outlets for information to improve health and connect with others. To conclude I think that the WHO’s definition of health is perfect as it motivates society to improve all aspects of their lives and is even more possible today with the improvement of technology.

  • NSUSHARKS7

    I believe that the definition of health varies among individuals and that everyone views health differently. My personal definition of someone who is healthy is someone who is fit and physically active, conscious of what they put in their body and above all happy and retains a positive outlook on life. The WHO’s definition is somewhat close to that but I feel like its much harder to reach that goal of “complete physical, mental, and social well-being”.

  • Guest

    Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a
    state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. This definition ties in many aspects of health that the average person overlooks. Your physical well-being would usually be the first thought to come to mind when asked about your state of health; but this is only a piece of it. Your relationships with others, feelings of self-worth, social acceptance and the ability to have a clear mind are just a few of the other factors that contribute to someone’s health. Most importantly, your physical, mental, and social well-being can all influence one another. A solid foundation is needed in all three of these aspects of health, because without this, there can be no stability to your health.

  • sushmita karki

    The
    World Health Organization (WHO) definition of health still holds true; it’s
    just that the perspective has changed and the diseases has changed. We might
    have eradicated smallpox but we still have cancer and cardiovascular diseases
    that’s killing people. Advancement in medical studies has helped us to control
    malaria, polio, measles but in the same time helped us to identify
    hypertension, AIDS, different strain of flu that’s killing people or
    identifying illness that’s leading people to other deadly diseases.

    Based
    on a recent article in the daily mail, the number one killer disease was heart
    disease back in 1950’s and today it’s the same1. The only
    difference is back in 1950, 355.2 deaths per 100,000 were attributed to
    heart disease1 where as in 2010 only 192.9 deaths are attributed to
    heart disease1. The decrease in number can be attributed to the
    identification of the causes leading to heart disease as well as advancement
    made in the medical field to cure/prevent heart disease.

    So
    the bottom line is we are controlling diseases, eradicating diseases but dueto environmental changes, population growth, war, globalization; new diseases are evolving or same disease is evolving into different forms like in the case of Swine Flu. Back in 2009, Swine flu (H1N1) was pandemic. Lot of people around the world died due to Swine Flu. But as we started taking precautions and developed vaccines for this strain of virus, the pandemic
    stopped, people were not dying from H1N1 anymore, instead we hear about a different strain of virus nowadays called Bird Flu (H7N1). So until the environment keeps changing, people keep migrating we will see different disease evolving and killing people.

    Now let’s take the case of Polio. Polio is almost eradicated from the world due to awareness and vaccination program. But some cases of polio has been detected in war torn countries like Syria and Afghanistan where the vaccination program is affected due to war.

    So to conclude my point, I believe and support the statement of WHO. It’s just that the world has changed so much in the past 60 years (due to development, environmental changes, globalization, migration) that we need to adjust our approach of managing/preventing diseases.

    1http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2168836/Cause-death-American-100-years.html

  • Cullen Adre

    Health. Is it simply a lack of disease? Should the
    definition be stretched to not only include physical but mental and social well
    being, according to the WHO? In my opinion, it must be included. Without a high
    mental and social well being to compliment a healthy physical status a person
    cannot be truly considered “healthy.” If a person is constantly under stress
    and cooped up in their dark apartment alone with no social contact and mentally
    fatiguing, no matter how physically healthy they are, they would not be seen as
    having an image of complete health. It could be compared to a machine being
    mechanically sound and working (healthy body) but if there is no one to operate
    it (having a mental well-being) it cannot operate to it’s full potential.
    Despite some rejecting this new definition of health and saying that it puts
    society in “a constant state of poor health”, it gives society a goal to strive towards, to reword Thomas
    Jefferson, a “pursuit of healthiness.” It changes people’s perceptions and no
    longer will society be satisfied with the status quo, people will be encouraged
    to constantly improve all aspects of their lives (physically, mentally, and
    socially). Especially with the progression of modern technology there are more
    outlets for information to improve health and connect with others. To conclude
    I think that the WHO’s definition of health is perfect as it motivates society
    to improve all aspects of their lives and is even more possible today with the improvement
    of technology.

  • Sandeep Sheoran

    Sandeep Sheoran
    WHO defines health as” a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. I think that the this definition of health by WHO is incomplete. WHO definition of health is unable to measure one’s health state. For example if a person is not getting enough sleep and is diagnosed by physician as complete healthy individual. Whether the person is healthy or not? Person might be in the stress due to economic conditions or unable to adapt to the new environment. I think that the health of the individual person depends on the life style. Abusing of the body too much by the individual for long time result in the deterioration of physical
    health. Consumption of the food rich in fat and sugar for long time leads to disease such as diabetes, hyperlipidemia or hypertension. Nutritious lifestyle such as plant base diet and correct physical activity help to reduce the occurrence of such diseases. WHO definition of health does not include satisfaction of the individuals. If a person is not satisfied with his or her economic status,relationship, educational level, behavior of other people. Whether such individual is completely healthy or not? Overall health of a person is the maintenance of balance between various factors. Personally, I believe that the health of a person depend on factors such as educational level, socioeconomic status, daily life style, culture,belief , traditions and relationships.

  • Samuel Assani

    The World Health Organization’s definition, which is popular and widely accepted around the world reads, “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
    The definition seems appropriate. My only concern is how all these parameters can easily be assessed. Obviously the aspect about the physical and mental well being may easily be determined; but social, I am not too sure about that. As much as the WHO definition is a perfect theoretical definition, I don’t find the whole context of the definition a workable one.
    What does it mean to be socially well, one may ask. Social well-being is a state in which basic human needs are met and people are able to coexist peacefully in communities with opportunities for advancement. The incorporation of this aspect in the WHO’s definition in my opinion makes it difficult for the definition to be an operating or workable definition. Indeed one cannot be said to be well when basic needs such as potable water is a scarcity or when social needs such as provision of food is a luxury. It is the assessment of these at the level of healthcare provision that I find too subjective to be a workable definition.
    The departure from only clinical parameters in the definition of health since the 1948 leaves the flood gates wide open for all sorts of parameters in the definition. I am surprised the emphasis hasn’t shifted to spiritual well being as yet. I am keen to learn how that will be measured when it is added.

  • JECY

    JECY

    10/30/13

    In this day and age is very difficult and intricate to
    define health because it encompasses so many factors. With
    the constant emergence of all kind of diseases, it is virtually impossible to encounter someone
    with complete mental, physical, social well-being and the absence of disease
    and infirmities at the same time. This
    generation is being attacked all kinds of diseases such as chronic, acute,
    mental diseases. Those diseases have
    been represented a significant burden on our society. I honestly do not think the WHO pioneers had
    anticipated these issues when they were originally defining health. The new definition of health should factor
    disease state and type in addition to physical, social, and mental
    well-being. I would define health as
    the adequate level of physical, mental, social capabilities required to carry
    out daily activities without hindrance. It does not mean that one is disease
    free.

  • JECY

    JECY

    In this day and age is very difficult and intricate to
    define health because it encompasses so many factors. With
    the constant emergence of all kind of diseases, it is virtually impossible to encounter someone
    with complete mental, physical, social well-being and the absence of disease
    and infirmities at the same time. This
    generation is being attacked all kinds of diseases such as chronic, acute,
    mental diseases. Those diseases have
    been represented a significant burden on our society. I honestly do not think the WHO pioneers had
    anticipated these issues when they were originally defining health. The new definition of health should factor
    disease state and type in addition to physical, social, and mental
    well-being. I would define health as
    the adequate level of physical, mental, social capabilities required to carry
    out daily activities without hindrance. It does not mean that one is disease
    free.

  • Melissa Veulens

    Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a
    state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. This definition ties in many aspects of health that the average person overlooks. Your physical well-being would usually be the first thought to come to mind when asked about your state of health; but this is only a piece of it. Your relationships with others, feelings of self-worth, social acceptance and the ability to have a clear mind are just a few of the other factors that contribute to someone’s health. Most importantly,
    your physical, mental, and social well-being can all influence one another. A solid foundation is needed in all three of these aspects of health, because without this, there can be no stability to your health.

  • Ernsto Perez

    It is very interesting to note that after much research and debate, it took the combined effort of two people to create a short definition for the word “Health”. In doing so, they created a broad concept of “health” which can be interpreted a million ways and can spur a heated debate even amongst the best of friends.

    Since our youth, we have been inculcated with the idea that the opposite of health is physical illness. We clearly carry this notion into our adult life. During times of stress, many of us have the appearance of being ill, yet we do not perceive this lack of “mental well-being” as an illness. In the same way, a person who is terrified of speaking in public can show signs of abnormal behavior when they are in front of large crowds, but it is difficult to state that they suffer from a lack of “social well-being”.

    Does this now mean that “stress” and “shyness” can be classified as factors that diminish our health? If so, how should they be treated? Can we just give these people medication to cure their “illness”, or do non physical ailments require non conventional methods of health care? Is it possible that “health” is a concept that we still do not fully understand? Is it possible that the authors of this article have not yet found the correct words to define “health”? … Maybe we will never know.

  • MelissaVeulens

    Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a
    state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. This definition ties in many aspects of health that the average person overlooks. Your physical well-being would usually be the first thought to come to mind when asked about your state of health; but this is only a piece of it. Your relationships with others, feelings of self-worth, social acceptance and the ability to have a clear mind are just a few of the other factors that contribute to someone’s health. Most importantly, your physical, mental, and social well-being can all influence one another. A solid foundation is needed in all three of these aspects of health, because without this, there can be no stability to your health.

  • Reepa Patel

    WHO’s definition “Health is a state of complete physical,
    mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” basically covers all aspects which should be considered for a good health. Physical well being is anything related to our bodies entities. It is basically how good our body functions. Mental health refers to individuals cognitive and emotional well being. It refers to mental stability of a person during a stressful situation. Social aspects also play an important role because our physical and mental health depends on our social well being. All the three aspects are interrelated with each other and alteration in any one of the states would alter the health of an individual.

    However, I feel that it is impossible for an individual to be completely physically, mentally and socially fit. Individual may come across with obstacles in any of the aspects and thus accordingly may not be considered healthy most of the
    time. Therefore, I believe that concept of being healthy keeps changing with every individual. It is based on how an individual deals with his/her physical, mental and social problems. The greater the ability to maintain balance between this aspects the happier and healthier the person can be.

  • Adamaris Rivera Stgo

    The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as a “a
    state of complete physical, mental and social-well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” In my opinion, health is a very complex concept to define, however this definition covers all aspects of being “healthy.” To be healthy you need a perfect balance of physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social well-being. However, “…the absence of disease or infirmity” makes me think that most of the people around the world are unhealthy. What happen with those people that have a disease, but are completely functional and productive in our society? Are they unhealthy just because they have a disease? The definition provided by WHO could be acceptable
    within certain population, but I think it need to be more specific with that statement in order to be more realistic and concise.

  • Bermhan Dubreil

    Health is a multidimensional concept. It is not easy to put it in a complete definition. Everyone could have different standpoint on how to define health. It is a state of generalized well-being. It is the body-mind-spirit acting together harmoniously. It is the pleasant arrangement and the perfect connection of the different parts of the body working together for the realization of a movement without causing discomfort to any of them.

    Health is a direct indicator of our spiritual condition. Health is to feel good physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. All the organs of the body to function properly must have a balance between activity and rest. It is necessary to respect the needs of the body to obtain an internal calm: the health. According to Webster’s New Explorer Dictionary, “Health is an overall condition of the body.” Everyone aspires to live a healthy life. If someone is not healthy that does not mean he or she is disabled spiritually. Health has principles that we all need to keep in mind and to apply them to our daily living if we want to stay in good shape such as vigorous exercise daily, be faithful and thankful for the day, drinking pure water, enjoying the beneficial effect of the sunshine, and getting enough of sleep.

    Health is to take care of our body by choosing good quality of food, concentrated on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, not only to satisfy our appetite but also to fortify the whole body. Health is to be able
    to live an active life without boundaries, thinking of good things, living a fantastic life filled of joy, love, patience, peace, kindness, and forgiveness. All the aspects of the environment have an impact negative or positive on individual’s health. It is imperative to take good care of the environment around us. As physical health directly affects our mental and spiritual health, it is absolutely essential to forgive, encourage, and show kindness to others for a better health. Train our mind to do nice things and to make people around us feel happy and precious.

    Health is to have enough patience to understand others, it is a balance between the physical, mental, and spiritual status of
    the individual. There is no significant life without health. Everyone needs to stay focus and put his or her health first. There is no life without health.

  • Adamaris Rivera Stgo

    The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as a “a
    state of complete physical, mental and social-well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” In my opinion, health is a very complex concept to define, however this definition covers all aspects of being “healthy.” To be healthy you need a perfect balance of physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social well-being. However, “…the absence of disease or infirmity” makes me think that most of the people around the world are unhealthy. What happen with those people that have a disease, but are completely functional and productive in our society? Are they unhealthy just because they have a disease? The definition provided by WHO could be acceptable
    within certain population, but I think it need to be more specific with that statement in order to be more realistic and concise…

  • Andrea Murzello

    Health is an umbrella term encompassing well-being and self care.The definition of health, as defined by the World Health
    Organization (WHO), is that “health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” which is a great beginning to the definition of health. This definition leaves many with the idea that health has to do with both one’s physical and mental stability and worth. It excludes sickness and disease in this sense. This is merely a framework statement which is perfect since health is so broad. The definition of health can vary among countries, societies, and even individually. It can also vary among professionals; a psychologist and a general physician could have a very different view on health.

  • Adamaris Rivera Stgo

    The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as a “a
    state of complete physical, mental and social-well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” In my opinion, health is a very complex concept to define, however this definition covers all aspects of being “healthy.” To be healthy you need a perfect balance of physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social well-being. However, “…the absence of disease or infirmity” makes me think that most of the people around the world are unhealthy. What happen with those people that have a disease, but are completely functional and productive in our society? Are they unhealthy just because they have a disease? The definition provided by WHO could be acceptable
    within certain population, but I think it need to be more specific with that statement in order to be more realistic and concise

  • Guest

    To say that someone who has the completeness of having physical, mental and social well-being in their life, is unrealistic. To be healthy is much more complex, there are many different factors that come into play such as spirituality and considering a persons emotional state, just to name a couple. An individual may be in good physical condition, nonetheless be mentally ill. Furthermore, one may seem healthy but have a serious condition, such as cancer, which may only be detected through a diagnostic test and not seen exteriorly.

    For example, I have seen some people who have a disease but yet interact with others and have great relationships with friends and family. They don’t fall into depression and shunt out the world because of what they are going through. They carry on with
    life carefree and are content, as if nothing serious has happened to them.

    Each individual out there functions differently. In some point of views, people would view “healthy” as someone who is educated, has social status, has no disease/illness, and other determinant factors. We see, act, and say different things thus, how can we place a definition so specific that will set a standard and depict the people?

    In my opinion, the definition should be altered in a way where
    it is fundamentally achievable for individuals.

  • Dorcas Abena Aforo Boakye

    Health is defined by WHO as a “state of complete physical mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease”.
    I personally agree with definition but generally I think the definition of health is subjective and means different things to different people. For example for someone says “I’m worried about your health, you look to skinny”, the person is obviously referring to the physical health. Generally when people talk about health they mean the physical well being which is the muscular strength,body composition and fitness. Factors that may contribute to a person’s physical health is nutrition, body weight, abstinence from drugs and alcohol good personal hygiene etc.
    However, there is this saying that “a sound mind is a sound body” and so no matter how strong and physically fit a person may be if the individual does not have a good cognitive and emotional well being then the person may to be healthy. A good mental health is the ability to enjoy life, be resilient, achieve a good balance and make the best of what they have. Therefore if an individual who looks very healthy lacks these then the person may not be seen as a healthy person.
    There are some factors that determine how healthy a person is, and these factors either affect the physical or the mental Heath or both either directly or indirectly. Example of these factors are socio economic status, relationship with friends, where the individual lives, the environment, genetics, eHealth is defined by WHO as a “state of complete physical mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease”.
    I personally agree with definition but generally I think the definition of health is subjective and means different things to different people. For example for someone says “I’m worried about your health, you look to skinny”, the person is obviously referring to the physical health. Generally when people talk about health they mean the physical well being which is the muscular strength,body composition and fitness. Factors that may contribute to a person’s physical health is nutrition, body weight, abstinence from drugs and alcohol good personal hygiene etc.
    However, there is this saying that “a sound mind is a sound body” and so no matter how strong and physically fit a person may be if the individual does not have a good cognitive and emotional well being then the person may to be healthy. A good mental health is the ability to enjoy life, be resilient, achieve a good balance and make the best of what they have. Therefore if an individual who looks very healthy lacks these then the person may not be seen as a healthy person.
    There are some factors that determine how healthy a person is, and these factors either affect the physical or the mental Heath or both either directly or indirectly. Example of these factors are socio economic status, relationship etc.
    With these determinants it is clear that what may be seen as health to one May not be to the other.
    Will a physically strong wealthy man who is going through a divorce be termed a healthy person? Like I said this is very subjective and so is the definition of health.

  • Mariela Rodríguez

    Health cannot be defined as just someone who is not sick. It is a general wellbeing of an individual’s mental and physical state. Many factors can affect ones healthy condition. A loss in the family, an addiction, a failed test, economic struggles, or a fight with a loved one are just some of the major factors aside from illnesses than can make someone unhealthy. Health to me is when an individual lives an integrated life with their surroundings and the people around them in addition to the actual healthy condition and hygiene of their body. Balancing physiological, mental, and social wellbeing is what can make someone a healthy person. Having an imbalance may not have you feeling sick, but “healthy” would not be the word to define your status.

    Mariela Rodríguez

  • Dorcas Abena Aforo Boakye

    Health is defined by WHO as a “state of complete physical mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease”.
    I personally agree with definition but generally I think the definition of health is subjective and means different things to different people. For example for someone says “I’m worried about your health, you look to skinny”, the person is obviously referring to the physical health. Generally when people talk about health they mean the physical well being which is the muscular strength,body composition and fitness. Factors that may contribute to a person’s physical health is nutrition, body weight, abstinence from drugs and alcohol good personal hygiene etc.
    However, there is this saying that “a sound mind is a sound body” and so no matter how strong and physically fit a person may be if the individual does not have a good cognitive and emotional well being then the person may to be healthy. A good mental health is the ability to enjoy life, be resilient, achieve a good balance and make the best of what they have. Therefore if an individual who looks very healthy lacks these then the person may not be seen as a healthy person.
    There are some factors that determine how healthy a person is, and these factors either affect the physical or the mental Heath or both either directly or indirectly. Example of these factors are socio economic status, relationship with friends, where the individual lives, the environment, genetics, eHealth is defined by WHO as a “state of complete physical mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease”.
    I personally agree with definition but generally I think the definition of health is subjective and means different things to different people. For example for someone says “I’m worried about your health, you look to skinny”, the person is obviously referring to the physical health. Generally when people talk about health they mean the physical well being which is the muscular strength,body composition and fitness. Factors that may contribute to a person’s physical health is nutrition, body weight, abstinence from drugs and alcohol good personal hygiene etc.
    However, there is this saying that “a sound mind is a sound body” and so no matter how strong and physically fit a person may be if the individual does not have a good cognitive and emotional well being then the person may to be healthy. A good mental health is the ability to enjoy life, be resilient, achieve a good balance and make the best of what they have. Therefore if an individual who looks very healthy lacks these then the person may not be seen as a healthy person.
    There are some factors that determine how healthy a person is, and these factors either affect the physical or the mental Heath or both either directly or indirectly. Example of these factors are socio economic status, relationship etc.
    With these determinants it is clear that what may be seen as health to one May not be to the other.
    Will a physically strong wealthy man who is going through a divorce be termed a healthy person? Like I said this is very subjective and so is the definition of health.

  • Ankit Ladhawala

    The Human body works on the simple mechanism- what you feed is what you get as your Health. So, if we eat good and nutritious food, breathe clean air, our mind is thinking positive, virtuous thoughts and our actions are in harmony with our thoughts – we
    are ought to be perfectly Healthy. The goal of WHO to completely eradicate chronic disease from developing nations has not yet been met because of lack of education, poverty and availability of basic hygienic conditions however the developed nations which already has the basic necessities being fulfilled have other health issues rising because of their lifestyle. Depression, anxiety, stress, unhealthy food habits and pollution are some of the leading factors resulting in irregular blood pressure, cholesterol, asthma, and many other severe diseases. People in developed countries believe in personal space and the increasing dependence on technology such as phone, computers has made them more isolated from the society making people more emotionless and family and society values being lost. This lack of social well-being is becoming a major factor towards depression and anxiety among the people of developed nations. Incorporating Spiritual well-being through practicing Yoga, Pranayama and Meditation in daily
    life can balance one’s physical, mental and social health and create a state of complete well-being.

    The definition of Health by WHO needs more depth. The goal of achieving complete physical, mental and social wellbeing can only be achieved by adding the fourth dimension that is Spiritual well-being. When the body, mind and soul are in harmony a state of complete health can be possible.

  • Nico Rodriguez

    The editorial(1) this blog was created to expand upon mentions the heralding of the “Fifth Estate” as its motivation to start the blog. Like the authors, I am choosing the Fifth Estate as my reasoning as to why the 1948 WHO definition of health is too accurate to change, and why I fully accept this as not just my definition of health, but the ultimate definition. Directly addressing the first question posed in the article,(1) the 1948 WHO definition may well be too ambitious for us. But this is simply because we will only survive one generation. The purpose of government is to create definitions for abstract concepts that stand the testament of time, and our inclination to “juke the stats” in order to meet unrealistic goals will prove about as useful to society as a teenager attempting to change the meaning of “broken up” would be to actualizing his or her wishes. The necessity of complete physical health has long been attested for by any injury, illness, or debilitation anyone has experienced or witnessed. The necessity of complete mental health can be attested for by anyone with an aging relative, anyone who has ever experienced a loss of capacity following some trauma, and every town that experienced ergot-infested grains in known history. But to think that in 1948 the WHO included complete social well-being into their definition of health is unfathomably and poetically prophetic, considering that the Fifth Estate has only recently allowed for an Anti-Bullying movement driven by children rather than parents to thrive and bring to light the extent to which social health is at the forefront of our livelihoods (which would have been unheard of in my childhood of be strong, be fast, or be funny). To attempt to change the definition due to complaints that the word “complete” negates its operational value, is to deny all future generations the right to true health simply because our lackadaisical generation couldn’t hit their marks. Because the truth is: most of us ARE unhealthy most of the time. And it is something we are only now becoming aware of because we finally have the faculties and resources required to recognize their absence. Regardless of whether or not we can agree upon a definition of health, the word has been defined. And this definition does in fact capture the complexity of health. The fact that the services our society can afford cannot match it only means that we should set intermittent societal minimums that can be raised to eventually reach the pie-in-the-sky which is true health. Because nothing should be amended to a weaker point because WE are not good enough, but should be set and amended to a stronger point when IT is no longer good enough.

    1. Alejandro R. Jadad and Laura O’Grady
    How should health be defined? BMJ 2008; 337: a2900 [Full text]

  • Ashish J Shah

    Everyday humans
    are striving to invent new ways to counter health problems. WHO defines “health
    as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely
    the absence of disease or infirmity”. According to me, I believe that being
    healthy means an equal balance between emotional, physical and mental state of
    well being. If any one of the aspects is disturbed, the others tend to be
    affected, just like if any person is in trouble, his/her family members are
    going to be affected by it. A person’s health is bound to get affected daily,
    because of all the chores and responsibilities, each person has. We can work hard to maintain our health, like doing
    physical activity, bonding, social gatherings, meditation, spiritualism etc,
    but still it‘ll not be enough. At times, there are unfortunate circumstances
    which are not in our control like cancer, accidents, natural calamities, etc. Another
    important thing is an individual’s behavior towards any situation, so it also
    depends on how any respective person perceives various things around them. Having
    a positive outlook is very important. Have we not heard of people being cured
    from cancer, by being positive, apart from all the medications and
    chemotherapy? A doctor always advices a patient to be positive and not to lose
    hope. To sum it up, I believe that there are various factors which contribute
    to a good health and it is important to draw everyone’s attention to it.

  • Carolina Simonpietri

    As per the WHO: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. I agree with this concept, even when it is in some way difficult to have all these three components in harmony at once. Said by Dalai Lama ” Today we have more medicines, but les healthiness”, this is real. It is a paradox of our time. Maybe we are not sick, we don’t have a disease but we are not healthy; the the question why? Well, from my point of view, because we have not learned how to get to that state where our body, mind and spirit are integrated in a way that can leads to a well-being. I think we have to understand and learn how integrated our body and mind are in order to look for a balance between them and how to apply this balance to have a state of harmony. We have to chose and want to be healthy, this state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, regardless the situations present in our lives, only comes from our willing to maintain an equilibrium of these components.

  • AB NSU SBP Class

    “Health and wellness are interconnected. Wellness is the state of physical and mental health, a state of balance, resilience and wholeness. And health is so much more than just the absence of disease, it is a feeling of an overall wellbeing. The actions and steps that you take throughout your life will help you move closer to health. As a health coach I help you develop those steps, my goal is to empower you to make healthy living an easy and natural part of your daily life. We are more than physical bodies, but mental, emotional, spiritual, social, and energetic beings. Where disease can occur from imbalances in these areas, we need to develop a deeper understanding of the foods and lifestyle choices that work best for each individual, and implement lasting changes that will improve energy, food choices and overall health and wellness. “– Elena Selivan
    Elena without sounding cliché took the words right out of my mouth. I believe everything is interconnected. I call it the trinity: body, mind, and soul is my mantra. For me not having a disease is just a word. We all need to focus on health and wellness as a whole. I have always thought wow I am dedicating my life to Pharmacy school and to medication but I know that there are foods, herbs, and essential oils that can help any ailments on the planet for the most part. As living in the Western world we are a society that is driving by putting band aids on everything instead of focusing on what the real case/cause may be. Why is our
    country so focused on the quick fixes? How can we keep making health and wellness better? This is why I love people’s opinions and classes like this one in Pharmacy school called social and behavioral pharmacy to make us think and write our thoughts to share with the rest of the health profession community. Together we can start making a difference in other peoples life and not go off of some definition. I pose for anyone reading this to do what their own heart feels to do to make your life and other people’s life better. Whether on their death bed or in the same elevator as you. We all have the power to help and make each others lives a little bit better. Knowing everything is connected and knowing we all are the same can help maybe start a new movement where we use foods, oils, and herbs to cure us instead of chemicals.

  • lysday

    The definition of health according to the World Health Organization’s definition is as follow “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. After deeply reflecting on the wording used by WHO, what seems at first glance as a good description, it is not. The idea of health itself is a very complex and abstract one. The World Health Organization makes a pretty good attempt to define it, however, I find that the word “complete” is not properly used and there are still some aspects untouched. In order to have health, there is no need to have absolute state of physical, mental and social wellbeing. One
    or more than one of these factors could be incomplete and still be sufficient for a specific individual to be healthy. For instances, a person may not have the personality or the ability to entirely interact in a social setting as it is socially acceptable and still live in a state of health. Another example is that some individuals suffer physical damage such as skin burns or a physical disability, which do not place them in the “ state of complete physical well-being”; however, they feel completely healthy and this lack of absolute physical
    wellbeing does not affect their lives and wellbeing at all. To conclude, health is more like a harmonic balance of metabolic efficiency, mental, physical and social wellbeing that allow individuals to perform their daily activities and feel in a state of satisfaction. The factors mentioned above do not have to be absolute but sufficient to each particular individual in order to create the perfect balance.

  • AB NSU SBP Class

    “Health and wellness are interconnected. Wellness is the state of physical and mental health, a state of balance, resilience and wholeness. And health is so much more than just the absence of disease, it is a feeling of an overall wellbeing. The actions and steps that you take throughout your life will help you move closer to health. As a health coach I help you develop those steps, my goal is to empower you to make healthy living an easy and natural part of your daily life. We are more than physical bodies, but mental, emotional, spiritual, social, and energetic beings. Where disease can occur from imbalances in these areas, we need to develop a deeper understanding of the foods and lifestyle choices that work best for each individual, and implement lasting changes that will improve energy, food choices and overall health and wellness. “– Elena Selivan

    Elena without sounding cliché took the words right out of my mouth. I believe everything is interconnected. I call it the trinity: body, mind, and soul is my mantra. For me not having a disease is just a word. We all need to focus on health and wellness as a whole. I have always thought wow I am dedicating my life to Pharmacy school and to medication but I know that there are foods, herbs, and essential oils that can help any ailments on the planet for the most part. As living in the Western world we are a society that is driving by putting band aids on everything instead of focusing on what the real case/cause may be. Why is our
    country so focused on the quick fixes? How can we keep making health and wellness better? This is why I love people’s opinions and classes like this one in Pharmacy school called social and behavioral pharmacy to make us think and write our thoughts to share with the rest of the health profession community. Together we can start making a difference in other peoples life and not go off of some definition. I pose for anyone reading this to do what their own heart feels to do to make your life and other people’s life better. Whether on their death bed or in the same elevator as you. We all have the power to help and make each others lives a little bit better. Knowing everything is connected and knowing we all are the same can help maybe start a new movement where we use foods, oils, and herbs to cure us instead of chemicals.

  • Nayeli Montes

    Health is a word that I believe cannot be defined. Although defined as the overall state of well-being and not merely the absence of disease, health is relative to each particular person, it is a state of mind, apart from all of these scientific definitions. We are all told to strive to have good cholesterol levels and to not get too stressed out because it will affect our “health” but how does this fall into the category of mental well-being for example? No two people are the
    same, therefore to each person health may mean a completely different thing, so how are you going to categorize every human being into one giant definition, it is impossible. Lets take a patient that has Celiac Disease for example, this person may not be able to eat gluten and if they accidentally ingest it, devastating things may happen, but on a daily basis can’t this person be defined as healthy? Their levels of cholesterol might be normal, mental capacity working to the best of their ability and in the best shape of their lives, so can you really determine that this person is sick just because they have this disease and occasionally see negative side effects? I believe the answer is no. Health also involves how you feel physically and emotionally. A terminally ill patient falls into the proposed definition of being “unhealthy” but what if this person, despite having cancer, is the happiest they have ever been, isn’t this a state of mental well-being? Therefore, I believe that although you may try your best to grasp the whole concept of what health can be defined as, ultimately it is up to each individual person and what they define as being healthy.

  • Ankit Ladhawala

    The Human body works on the simple mechanism- what you feed is what you get as yourHealth. So, if we eat good and nutritious food, breathe clean air, our mind is thinkingpositive, virtuous thoughts and our actions are in harmony with our thoughts – we
    are ought to be perfectly Healthy. The goal of WHO to completely eradicate chronic disease from developing nations has not yet been met because of lack of education, poverty and availability of basic hygienic conditions however the developed nations which already has the basic necessities being fulfilled have other health issues rising because of their lifestyle. Depression, anxiety, stress, unhealthy food habits and pollution are some of the leading factors resulting in irregular blood pressure, cholesterol, asthma, and many other severe diseases. People in developed countries believe in personal space and the increasing dependence on
    technology such as phone, computers has made them more isolated from the society making people more emotionless and family and society values being lost. This lack of social well-being is becoming a major factor towards depression and anxiety among the people of developed nations. Incorporating Spiritual well-being through practicing Yoga, Pranayama and Meditation in daily
    life can balance one’s physical, mental and social health and create a state of complete well-being.

    The definition of Health by WHO needs more depth. The goal of achieving complete physical, mental and social wellbeing can only be achieved by adding the fourth dimension that is Spiritual well-being. When the body, mind and soul are in harmony a state of complete health can be possible.

  • lysday

    The definition of health according to the World Health
    Organization’s definition is as follow “Health is a state of complete
    physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or
    infirmity”. After deeply reflecting on the wording used by WHO, what seems
    at first glance as a good description, it is not. The idea of health itself is
    a very complex and abstract one. The World Health Organization makes a pretty
    good attempt to define it, however, I find that the word “complete” is not
    properly used and there are still some aspects untouched. In order to have
    health, there is no need to have absolute state of physical, mental and social
    wellbeing. One or more than one of these factors could be incomplete and still
    be sufficient for a specific individual to be healthy. For instances, a person
    may not have the personality or the ability to entirely interact in a social
    setting as it is socially acceptable and still live in a state of health.
    Another example is that some individuals suffer physical damage such as skin
    burns or a physical disability, which do not place them in the “ state of
    complete physical well-being”; however, they feel completely healthy and this
    lack of absolute physical wellbeing does not affect their lives and wellbeing
    at all. To conclude, health is more like a harmonic balance of metabolic
    efficiency, mental, physical and social wellbeing that allow individuals to
    perform their daily activities and feel in a state of satisfaction. The factors
    mentioned above do not have to be absolute but sufficient to each particular
    individual in order to create the perfect balance.

  • Sherin George

    Sherin George

    October 30, 2013; 11:40 p.m

    I GUESS IT’S TIME FOR A REDEFINITION
    OF HEALTH!

    WHO defines Health
    as “Health is a state of complete physical, mental
    and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

    I don’t completely agree with this definition of Health. I
    feel that it doesn’t fully describe what it’s supposed to be. But even so, are we even capable of saying that we have achieved the right to define health this way? How true are our achievements in relation to the statement? Are we going to limit it to being just a definition? Even though there have been many advancements in the technology, it seems that we wouldn’t be able to achieve the goal by 2015. The word “Impossible” shouldn’t be in our dictionary especially when science has progressed so much! Many things which were thought impossible a couple of centuries ago have been achieved by us. A small step on the moon turned out to
    be a big step for humanity. From then on, our journey began. It was not always a bed of roses. There were times when we had to go through rocky narrow roads but then with will power we
    have overcome many of our goals. All of us wish to live long and in good health. A world with no diseases where all the people live healthy long lives is our dream. Even though we may have achieved anything and everything we have wished for in life, there is always a small prick in our heart. What if we catch some deadly disease? What if we die soon? Is this all worth it? Being
    healthy is what we all hope for. If we are not able to achieve that, are we even achieving anything in life?

    It is so easy to define what Health should look like. It is hard
    to bring it into practice. Do we judge our achievements from the health status of some of the developed countries? We should focus more on globalizing Health. It shouldn’t be restricted to just the developed countries. The underdeveloped as well as the developing countries should be focused on as well. Can a common man receive the above said proper healthcare? There are millions who suffer from deadly diseases in the third world countries. Do they have clean water? Do they receive proper health related education? The sad part is that most of these diseases have cures. The only reason behind majority of the death that’s occurring is that the treatments are inaccessible to them.

    1) Organizations such as WHO and other community organizations should take initiative toward this. Only when this goal is
    achieved, can we proudly hold on to our definition of Health.

    2) Societal constraints is another matter of
    consideration. If the society thinks that a certain disease should be treated by some traditional methods which do not prove useful, then it acts as a hindrance as well. Promoting proper health education is the only way to face this.

    3) Another point I would like to mention is that at present there is very little stress on prevention. Prevention of anything which
    could result in illness should be given more importance. If this is done, more people would remain healthy. Unnecessary wastage of money on treatments could be avoided as these treatments are expensive. Community informative workshops on Health, importance of proper diet, vaccination etc. should be stressed upon.

    “A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being of every individual emphasizing on prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity as well as promoting proper health education” would be my proposed definition of health.

  • Nydia Rivera

    The word health encompasses a lot of things
    thus the definition is a bit complex. If we follow the basic definition of
    health is lack of disease. But to define
    the word health in a social context it has to include the state of mind of the
    person or emotional stability, physical condition and how it relates to people
    around them. A person may not have any disease and say that is healthy but may
    have social problems that affect their mood and social status so it can be
    classified as having a health problem therefore this may vary from person to
    person. For me the word health should always consider physical, emotional and
    social status of the person .

  • Krupa Patel

    WHO defines health as “the state of complete physical,
    mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
    However, I agree with the article of not merely constricting the definition to physical,
    mental and social well-being. Health is
    universal but at the same time more individualized, because every individual aspire health by
    their personal finding and any of the three criteria may be present or absent
    in our lives. I believe the definition of health expands including many other dimensions such as a well-balanced personal life (socio-economic status), physical
    environment around you, spirituality, education, daily life-style, optimistic
    attitude, etc. Health is something that does not remain the same every day. But for
    me to reach an optimal health state is having the complete outcome of body,
    mind and spirit combined together. A person’s emotional and spiritual state of
    mind can many of the times take over their physical health.

  • Julianna Rodríguez Varela

    According to the World Health Organization, health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. In my opinion, health is a complex topic and this definition is too general and needs to be more specific and precise. I understand that this is a difficult term to define because it encompasses so many characteristics and can be viewed from different perspectives by different health branches and/or health care providers. Even religious thoughts can be considered when defining “health.” As a pharmacy student, I view the state of health as an individual or community that has good
    sanitation and hygiene, social, mental or psychological state, and all of their organ systems work properly. In conclusion it is the well-being of the people.

  • Guest

    The definition of health in my opinion is like an
    intangible term which does not have any precise
    definition. Health can have implication based on varied human entities. The
    approach of people towards life has a major impact towards the health of an
    individual. It can be explained by a simple example with two individuals of
    same age of same profession but different mindset. The first individual of
    interest approaches life in a positive manner where he believes in enjoying the
    life to fullest without taking too much of stress while the other individual
    has burden full of tension and stress. If we compare the health of both the
    individuals the one with the positive approach had no health problem mainly
    blood pressure or any mental problems while the other individual had a bunch of
    diseases. So according to me the health could be defined by the way people
    approach their life and not get affected by their surroundings pressure and
    responsibilities. God has made all individuals equal with the equal capability
    to do things but we as an individual worsen our life b adapting the wrong
    approach towards life which not only has a bad impact on our self but also on
    the individual among us. We place a wrong example in minds of people. Either
    change find ways yourself r learn from successful individuals of how to approach
    life and impact health being.

    Also, some people change their attitude towards
    life by mental changes put forward by meditation, art of living, yoga and many
    other options whichever the individual feel comfortable. Hence, we should
    control the life of how and not the life and its circumstances control how we
    live.

  • Ajaykumar Patel

    By definition of health, WHO expects a person’s complete
    well-being at physical, mental and social level. I would say it’s completely
    impossible to find an individual who is at that paramount. I rather see
    definition as scale, combining three departments. WHO expects a healthy person
    to be completely well in all three departments, when any individual can be there;
    he’s healthy. So for better health everyone should seek being physically,
    mentally and socially better.

  • Fazeer Abrahim

    My name is Fazeer Abrahim, and I am currently a second year pharmacy student at Nova Southeastern University. Six decades ago, the WHO defined health: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Six decades later, I believe this is still the most accurate description of health. I think that the one factor that tends to become overlooked is the term “well-being.” However, this is what health boils down to. As a student pharmacist, I understand the true benefits of drugs. However, I also know the side effects that are very possible with taking many drugs. I personally have family members who constantly wonder if taking all the medications are even worth it. For example, taking statins for an elder person would cause muscle aches. Taking beta blockers causes extreme tiredness at times. It boils down to being worth it. Yes, the number to prevent heart risks are very important. The absence of disease and infirmity is the goal. But if well-being is not being improved then it’s not worth it. Many will agree with living 5 comfortable years is much better than living 10 uncomfortable years.

  • Omama Sabir

    The World Health Organization defines health as being in “…a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. I agree with this definition because health can’t be just the absence of disease. People with chronic, long term diseases can also be classified as healthy if their condition is well managed and controlled. Also mental and social well-being plays a big part in being considered healthy. There can be someone who doesn’t have any kind of disease but can be unhappy. Just the absence of happiness and not being emotionally healthy, the person will be considered as unhealthy. Being healthy is to have a balance of everything in life. Being physically, mentally and socially well is what matters, with or without disease.

  • Prijay Surti

    The definition of health in my
    opinion is like an intangible term which does not have any precise definition. Health can have implication based on varied human entities. The approach of people towards life has a major impact towards the health of an individual. It can be explained by a simple example with two individuals of same age of same profession but different mindset. The first individual of interest approaches
    life in a positive manner where he believes in enjoying the life to fullest without taking too much of stress while the other individual has burden full of tension and stress. If we compare the health of both the individuals the one with the positive approach had no health problem mainly blood pressure or any mental problems while the other individual had a bunch of diseases. So according to me the health could be defined by the way people approach their life and not get affected by their surroundings pressure and responsibilities.
    God has made all individuals equal with the equal capability to do things but we as an individual worsen our life b adapting the wrong approach towards life which not only has a bad impact on our self but also on the individual among us. We place a wrong example in minds of people. Either change find ways yourself or learn from successful individuals of how to approach life and impact health
    being. Also, some people change their
    attitude towards life by mental changes put forward by meditation, art of living, yoga and many other options whichever the individual feel comfortable. Hence,we should control the life of how and not the life and its circumstances control how we live.

  • Kalpendra Patel

    Health
    is primary and principal choice of taking responsibility for the quality of
    once life. It begins with a cognizant resolution to shape individual’s
    lifestyle. According to me health is a human mind set, which involves tendency
    to adopt a series of key principles in various life areas that lead to elevated
    levels of one’s well-being and life satisfaction.

    Health
    is word that’s been used lot now-a-days. Traditionally health means mere
    absence of disease or any disability. That medical aspect of health. Recently,
    health has attained new definition which states optimal functioning of each
    individual regardless of current health status. So, health exists on a variety
    of scale where every individual has its own definition. One cannot judge the
    health status of any individual. Health involves complete biological and social
    profile of individual and not just his blood pressure, or stress, or his
    respiratory condition. Health involves being able to function and do what one
    feels like doing, being independent, and having physical and emotional
    stability without being held back by pain. Health is completed by four major
    factors mind, body, spirit and context.

  • Ajaykumar Patel

    By definition of health, WHO expects a person’s complete
    well-being at physical, mental and social level. I would say it’s completely
    impossible to find an individual who is at that paramount. I rather see
    definition as scale, combining three departments. WHO expects a healthy person
    to be completely well in all three departments, when any individual can be there;
    he’s healthy. So for better health everyone should seek being physically,
    mentally and socially better.

  • Jay Patel

    Jay Patel

    According to WHO “Health is a state of complete
    physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or
    infirmity”

    This
    definition of health by WHO is seems very broad. I think the word complete
    makes it very complicated. Health system can makes patient complete physically
    fit, but mental and social well-being is depends on individual life. If we see
    that way hardly we can find complete healthy person. There are so many factors
    that affect health. If we see that way hardly we can find complete healthy person.
    So, I think it is depend on individual’s lifestyle.

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