Health is a condition of mental, physical and emotional well-being where infirmity and illness are absent. There are various definitions for this term which have been used for many different purposes over the years. Today it has become one of the most important concepts in public health, as people come to realize that health is important for all of us. This condition can be seen around the globe with the different awareness campaigns being conducted on different aspects of health. However, what exactly is health?
The concept of health has many dimensions and it involves four main factors. First of all it includes the physical and mental aspects like the ability to engage in everyday activities and the capacity to maintain one’s health. Second is emotional health, which includes the capacity to handle stress, to cope with pain and to develop coping mechanisms. Mental health includes the capacity to learn new things and to keep ones mind sharp.
These four factors are interrelated, but they are not independent. They are influenced by each other and by other determinants. Factors like the environment one lives in, the level of education, the personal characteristics, the social environment, the medical history and the prevalent health problems are responsible for creating determinants for a person’s health status. As we have mentioned previously some examples of determinants influencing health status include the following: physical comorbidity which include such diseases as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and liver disease; mental comorbidity including anxiety, depression and psychosis; environmental factors which include the air pollution, the food and water quality and the occupational safety and hygiene. The others are sociodemographic, psychosocial and economic factors.
It is important to note that there is great variation in the levels of well-being across different countries and populations. Some developed countries have high levels of physical well-being while others have low levels. This is usually a result of wealth: those countries that have higher per capita GDP tend to have higher levels of physical well-being. There is also some correspondence between the level of technological advancement and the level of physical well-being.
It has been observed that people living in advanced societies spend more time on health issues than those living in developing countries. This is because they face more health problems. Those living in industrialized countries suffer from higher rates of obesity, smoking and other physical problems than those in other socio-economic groups. In developed countries, people have greater exposure to diseases through passive means such as ultraviolet radiation from sunlight, ionizing radiation from medical X-rays and diet. This means that physical health problems are more common in developed countries than in undeveloped countries. A clear example of such a health issue is cancer, which is more common in industrialized countries than in undeveloped countries.
Socio-economic conditions and state of health are strongly related to the level of stress a person undergoes in his or her daily life. A healthy lifestyle choice and a proper diet are important factors that lower the level of stress in an individual. These factors include a healthy diet, regular exercise and avoidance of tobacco and alcohol. In developed countries, where access to health services is very poor, this regimen is not always possible. In addition, there is little communication between the people regarding stress and healthful diet, which is one of the most important components of a good public health program.