Meaning of Health

What is health:

Health is the general state of a living organism, insofar as it performs its vital functions efficiently, which allows it to function adequately in its environment.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the concept of health is linked to a state of physical, mental and social well-being, and not only to the absence of disease.

Health is also defined at two levels: a subjective level (the subject believes that he or she is well-being) and an objective level (when there are data that allow verification of said state).

The term health comes from the Latin salus, salūtis, which means ‘salvation’, but also ‘greeting’. Hence, the verb to greet implies wishing health to the other.

In a broad sense, health is also used to refer to the state and functioning of a group, an institution or an activity. Used as an interjection (‘Cheers!’) it is a formula for toasting.

See also World Health Organization

Factors affecting health

In 1974, a report called “A New Perspective on the Health of Canadians” was released in Canada, known as the Lalonde Report, after the then Minister of Health, Mark Lalonde, who introduced the study.

This report served to determine the existence of four factors that had a marked impact on the health of the population, namely:

human biology

This includes the genetic factors that can influence the appearance of diseases or conditions that alter the state of health.


It has to do with aspects such as environmental pollution, the conditions of spaces or physical structures (housing, workplace, public areas), as well as socio-cultural factors that influence life habits.

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It refers to personal habits (diet, hygiene, physical activity, social relations, sexual activity).

Health care organization

It includes access to and use of the health system (both public and private), as well as its quality.

health and hygiene

There is a direct relationship between the application of hygiene standards and the preservation of health. Hygiene refers to all cleaning and care measures, both for the human body and for physical spaces.

In this sense, habits such as daily bathing, brushing and dental care, and the elimination of waste from the environment are just some of the measures that prevent the appearance of diseases and, therefore, constitute an essential factor in maintaining individual and collective health.

Mental health

Mental health is a state of balance and mental, emotional and social well-being in which the person is aware of their abilities and can cope with the normal demands of life and be productive for society. However, the World Health Organization has not established a definition for this term.

Mental health refers to a person’s emotions, feelings, attitudes and behaviors and their social relationships.

Self-perception, autonomy and subjective well-being (how the person thinks they feel) directly influence mental health.

Some of the clinical conditions related to mental health are depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and eating disorders.

See also Mental health

Public health

Public health is the discipline that is responsible for studying and implementing measures to ensure the health of the population.

Public health includes the organization and implementation of health services, the implementation of strategies for disease prevention, as well as the protection, promotion and restoration of health and quality of life of citizens.

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Some measures that depend on public health have to do with the sanitary control of the environment, pest control, health promotion activities and the development of programs that allow the determination of risk factors in the health of the population.

In most countries, public health policies are carried out by a ministry of health or similar body.

  • Public health

Reproductive health

Reproductive health has to do with access to sexual rights in women and men, which implies that they may have the ability to enjoy a satisfactory sexual life and without risk of disease, in addition to free choice in their family planning.

Reproductive health implies access to information and methods related to the regulation of fertility in a safe and accessible way, as well as services related to assistance during pregnancy and childbirth, provided by the public health system.

The foregoing is framed in the so-called reproductive rights, a concept that, although it was created at the Tehran conference of the WHO and the United Nations in 1968, would have a broader definition in the Program of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development held in Cairo in 1994.

That is when it is established that reproductive rights are based on a recognition of the right of all individuals and couples to make decisions regarding their sexual and reproductive health without suffering any type of discrimination.

Some reproductive rights are:

  • The right to self-determination of one’s own body.
  • The right to procreation.
  • The right to access to reproductive health.
  • The right to access technological and scientific advances in sexual and reproductive health.
  • The right to choose a partner and to marry without coercion.
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Physical Health

It refers to the physical environment of the person, the state and functioning of his organism.

A person with optimal physical health can integrate more adequately into society, developing their potential and contributing to the well-being of society in general.

The influence of biological, environmental and social factors have an impact on physical health, but lifestyle also plays a fundamental role.

Adequate nutrition, regular exercise, healthy affective and social relationships and access to health services are factors in which the person can intervene directly to contribute to maintaining their health and preventing diseases.

see also

  • Physical Health
  • Medicine