Assumptions About Health
Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is an “uneven condition of the body and its physiological processes that may be manifested in a measurable way in an individual’s life”. A number of definitions have also been applied to health throughout the history of the world. According to them, health is a state of well being that is characterized by bodily capacities in their best states, functioning normally and having no disease or illness. These definitions are based on several assumptions, some of which are not at all relevant to human health.
One such assumption is that health is a condition, as opposed to a quality of life. The World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund, for example, base their definition of health on universal and best values. They do not consider quality as part of the definition, arguing instead for a standard set of values that are considered to be the minimum acceptable standard of living. According to this second definition, persons would be considered to have the highest level of health only if they can not find any medical condition in their lives that would prevent them from achieving this. Persons with such high levels of health would then be labeled as healthy, and receive the most basic health care services, such as protection from the risk of death, protection against extreme conditions, etc.
According to a third definition, health is a state of good health that is promoted through individual behavior. It then follows that public health should be promoted through individual behavior, through education, through legislation, and through control of exposure to unhealthy environments. The fourth major assumption about health that underlies most health discussions is that the state has an important role to play in promotion of health through individual behavior. However, little is known about the determinants of health. What is known is that different people live with different health risks and that certain types of health behaviors differ from other types.