In United States, the word “health” refers to the ability to lead a healthy life, an ability that is essential for a person’s well-being, and for his or her protection from diseases and other undesirable conditions. According to the World Health Organization, “health” is “a condition of full physical, emotional and social well-being.” Different definitions have been utilized over the years for different purposes. In general, however, health is a condition that meets the basic needs of life, such as: physical well-being, emotional well-being, and a sense of being understood and accepted by others.
In order to meet these basic needs, the health care system in the United States has developed several approaches to promote healthy living. Among these strategies are the Public Health Service, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Prevention and Public Health Office, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Other Related Disorders, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These organizations promote the overall health of the nation by ensuring that the nation’s citizens are aware of their health status and are able to avail of quality health care services. These services are made available through state and local health departments as well as through various non-profit agencies. In addition, various professionals such as doctors, nurses, epidemiologists, and other researchers monitor and evaluate health-related developments.
The above public health measures focus on the various social determinants of health. The challenge is to improve the quality of health promotion and to eliminate health equity. Efforts by government, society, and the individuals can significantly contribute to improving health equity and closing health equity gaps.