|By – Dr. Ashutosh Pradhan
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Today we all are scared of catching the disease. We are making every attempt to be healthy. However, do each one knows what health is all about? This is the first article in Health series, as it cannot be explained in depth in one article.
Often none of the non-medical or non-health related population is interested in knowing what actual is meant by the six-letter word health. However, I feel it is very essential to know the precise meaning and the determinants of health. Once one is aware of what is meant by health the target of achieving health is crystal clear and the path can be easily chalked out towards health.
Merriam Webster’s Dictionary
Simple Definition of health1 is the:
- Condition of being well or free from disease
- Overall condition of someone’s body or mind
- Condition or state of something
Full Definition of health1
- The condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit; especially: freedom from physical disease or pain
- The general condition of the body <in poor health> <enjoys good health>
- Flourishing condition: well-being <defending the health of the beloved oceans — Peter Wilkinson>
- General condition or state <poor economic health>
A: toast to someone’s health or prosperity
The World Health Organization (WHO) defined health in its constitution dated back to 1948 as:
“A state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.2, 3”
Huber M. et al
Dr. Machteld Huber redefined Health on 2011 as:
Health as the ability to adapt and to self manage, in the face of social, physical and emotional challenges.4, 5
Dr. Huber describes the new concept as about ‘positive health’. The concept does not focus on the ‘state of complete well-being’. As per opinion of Dr. Huber the current World Health Organization (WHO) definition:
- Focuses on complete well-being, by which merely nobody is healthy.
- Has inadvertently promoted medicalisation, encouraging people and healthcare practitioners to be continually concerned with fighting disease, and neglecting opportunities for people to lead a meaningful life.
Resilience and self-management
Dr. Huber further feels that health is a dynamic phenomenon, and should be seen as an integral part of the art of living, rather than something we consider only when illness occurs. Of course illness must be treated where possible, but we should also focus on strengthening resilience, self-management and ‘health literacy’.
Wellbiance® Accepted Definition of Health
I am practicing on the basis of WHO’s definition of health since 1993. I differ with opinion expressed by Dr. Huber for her discussion about terms “complete well-being” as mentioned in the WHO’s definition of health. I personally feel that the WHO’s definition is highly ambitious as far as practitioners of modern medicine are concerned. When it comes to practitioners of yoga, homeopathy and Wellbiance®, the definition of health is achievable. With Wellbiance® through vehicles such as yoga, homeopathy independently as well as jointly, complete wellbeing is achievable. Deleting terms “complete well-being” from the definition of health is as good as defeating oneself against diseases. Simply because majority from the population is suffering from chronic diseases does not dilute your target of achieving complete well-being. Hence, I feel WHO’s definition of health is accurate and is time tested.
While we will discuss about Wellbiance® in details in the upcoming articles we will consider WHO’s definition of health as a accurate definition. However, we will use Dr. Huber’s new concept of resilience as a tool to achieve health as per WHO’s definition.
Health – as Specified in WHO’s Definition
Since we have accepted the WHO’s definition of health our goal of achieving health as per WHO’s definition of health, has now been clear. Now we must understand the definition completely so that the target “Health” will be crystal clear and we can chalk down the road map to our target.
Let’s re-read the definition:
Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.2, 3
If we defragment the statement above into key words following are the keywords:
Let’s understand the meaning of these keywords from the existing easy access definitions, meanings, explanations:
- State7 – noun –
- The condition of a person or thing, as with respect to circumstances or attributes e.g. a state of health.
- A particular condition of mind or feeling e.g. to be in an excited state.
- Complete7 – adjective – having all parts or elements; lacking nothing; whole; entire; full
- Physical7 – adjective – related to body – we will understand it in depth to learn all physical aspects in terms of signs and symptoms of well-being
- Mental7 – related to mind – we will understand it in depth to learn all physical aspects in terms of signs and symptoms of well-being
- Social – always refers to the interaction of organisms with other organisms and to their collective co-existence, irrespective of whether they are aware of it or not, and irrespective of whether the interaction is voluntary or involuntary8.
- Well-being – Well-being is a positive outcome about what people feel about their lives, such as the quality of their relationships, their positive emotions and resilience, the realization of their potential, or their overall satisfaction with life—i.e., their “well-being.”9, 10 Well-being generally includes global judgments of life satisfaction and feelings ranging from depression to joy.11, 12
- Disease – A disease is a particular abnormal condition, a disorder of a structure or function, which affects part or all of an organism13.
- Infirmity14 – noun
- A Physical weakness or ailment: the infirmities of age.
- Quality or state of being infirm; lack of strength.
- A moral weakness or failing.
With the defragmented understanding of the keywords, you may have had a glimpse of collectively what the definition of health comprises of.
The definition begins with the word state that means it has an affinity to change as per external impression and may not remain the same constantly over a period of time. Then it speaks about complete physical, mental and social well-being. Often in our day-to-day living we refer to only physical health and the other two components are completely missing from our awareness “radar”. We never think of or are aware of mental and social components. It would be a weird idea to have patient coming into a primary care physician and the patient states that I do not have social well-being. Even when it comes to mental well-being many a times the person is not aware of the derangements yet there is enough awareness now a days and people do visit a counselor or a psychiatrist. Why is this scenario prevailing? The basic reason why we never emphasis on the other two components and are constantly aware of derangements at the bodily level is because we have never been taught to gauze the other two levels on our own. We will go through each of the three components thoroughly to understand what it means being in the state of well-being and how to gauze the levels in health.
If at all you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with me.
- Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Definition of Health. Accessed at URL: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/health
- World Health Organization. WHO definition of Health, Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization as adopted by the International Health Conference, New York, 19–22 June 1946; signed on 22 July 1946 by the representatives of 61 States (Official Records of the World Health Organization, no. 2, p. 100) and entered into force on 7 April 1948. In Grad, Frank P. (2002). “The Preamble of the Constitution of the World Health Organization”. Bulletin of the World Health Organization 80 (12): 982.
- World Health Organization. 2006. Constitution of the World Health Organization – Basic Documents, Forty-fifth edition, Supplement, October 2006.
- Huber M. et al. How should we define health? BMJ 2011;343:d4163. PMID 21791490.
- Huber M. et al. New Concept of Health. A short video published on YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoJ_zywh9uM published on December 10, 2012.
- Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health
- Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social
- Diener E, Seligman ME. Beyond money. Toward an economy of well-being. Psychological Science in the Public Interest 2004;5(1):1–31.
- Diener E. Assessing well-being: the collected works of Ed Diener. New York: Springer; 2009.
- Diener E, Scollon CN, Lucas RE. The evolving concept of subjective well-being: the multifaceted nature of happiness. In: E Diener (ed.) Assessing well-being: the collected works of Ed Diener. New York: Springer; 2009:67–100.
- Frey BS, Stutzer A. Happiness and economics. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press; 2002.
- com – http://www.dictionary.com/browse/infirmity
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© April 2020, Dr. Ashutosh Pradhan – Consulting Homoeopath – Wellbiance Quality of Living Clinic