The Importance of Healthy People and Public Health
It may sound like a cliche, but health is often overlooked by people in North America. As a society, we spend less time thinking about health, and we often take it for granted. Unfortunately, the lack of attention to our health and what it means to us can have disastrous effects. It affects everything we do, from how we work to how we eat.
Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is “the state of full physical, mental, and social well-Being of an individual at the same time.” Different definitions have been utilized over the years for various purposes. In United States, we think of health as being clean and free of infection, being in good health, having strong bones, and having enough energy to undertake the activities that most require us. Some even consider a life to be healthy when one is able to experience happiness and love fully. We might also consider being healthful as having a realistic self-image and accepting the challenges that life presents.
Health can be influenced by many external factors such as habits, practices, cultures, genetics, environment, and lifestyle. External influences include the quality of the public health system, attitudes, policies, social determinants such as poverty, discrimination, and violence, and historical circumstances including historical diseases and conditions. Social determinants are those that affect the health of individuals because of social conditions such as race, gender, ethnicity, and location. The structural barriers to achieving health include behaviours and attitudes that limit health, the health of the family unit, and the determinants of health. The structural barriers to achieving optimal health are the result of the influence of cultural beliefs, social structures and practices that impact on the health of individuals.