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Richard Smith: Can poetry define health?

5 Jan, 09 | by BMJ Group

Richard Smith Reflecting on the challenge by Alex Jadad and Laura O’Grady to define health, I begin to conclude that it can’t be captured in a few words. Disease is a simple concept compared with health, and diseases can be defined — but with all the paraphernalia of pathophysiology, epidemiology, symptomatology, and the like. Defining health will be more complex and more unfamiliar. more…

Richard Smith on the right to health

15 Dec, 08 | by BMJ Group

Richard Smith On first acquaintance the concept of a right to health can seem ridiculous. Why not a right to happiness, beauty, high intelligence, and Arsenal winning the cup every year? The right to health has been questioned legally and on grounds of feasibility and policy, but the Nobel prize winner Amartya Sen answers these questions convincingly in this week’s Lancet, which carries many articles on the right to health.(1) more…

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

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. more…

Ike Anya: Why organise a conference on Nigerian health….in London?

31 Oct, 08 | by BMJ Group

Ike Anya A quiet milestone passed in May this year, when Nigerians marked nine years of unbroken civilian government, the longest period in the 48 years since independence. A year earlier, the peaceful handover of power from one civilian president to another was another significant milestone. This period has coincided with an era of unprecedented high oil prices, Nigeria’s major source of income. more…

Laura James on science and journalism

28 Oct, 08 | by BMJ Group

Laura James On 19 of October I arrived in Madrid, the the place of beautiful parks, live flamenco, brilliant nightlife, churros, a Spanish type of long thin doughnut, El Rastro, an enormous outdoor market, and the Golden Triangle of art museums. But I wasn’t really there for the tapas, I was there for environmental health matters. I am taking one year out of medical school to explore medical journalism, and word reached me that there was a workshop for young journalists in Spain on the topics of health and the environment, with the World Health Youth (WHY) Communication Network on environment and health. more…

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