Health Promotion – Key Concepts

Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is “the state of full mental and physical well-being with no limitations.” A wide variety of definitions have also been used over the years for distinct purposes. Generally, however, health is the condition of being able to cope with normal bodily functions without limitations. Individuals who suffer from a disability that affects either the physical or mental capacity, or both, are considered as having a disability which results in the inability to lead a typical lifestyle. As a result, individuals with disabilities may be denied access to opportunities available to those without disabilities.

The goal of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is to promote healthy living and achieve optimum health through a variety of means. In doing so, the federal government has defined health systems as systems that promote health, provide for the needs of individuals in the general public, ensure that the public’s health is maintained, improve the quality of the health system, promote adequate funding for health systems, provide services that promote the prevention of health disorders and guarantee that care provided is medically appropriate. For example, Medicaid, which is a federal program for low-income families and individuals provides health care protection for medically needy individuals and certain family members. Similarly, Medicare is a federal program that provides coverage for medical expenses; Medigap, which is a Medicare supplement that ensures that Medicare beneficiaries have the maximum benefits; and CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, a well-being refers to being happy and at peace. The definition further states that well-being is the result of having a sense of overall well-being, achieved through the whole person, and one’s relationship with others. The goal of health promotion is to promote well-being, by preventing health disorders, promoting optimal health and preventing illness. The focus on prevention is a result of the fact that most chronic conditions can be prevented or significantly reduced through diet, exercise, disease management, medication, and other medical care, and through the promotion of good health behaviours.

Health Promotion defines health care as the application of preventative measures to reduce the risk of disease, injury, and premature death. A health care provider is described as a person who provides treatment for individuals, groups or the community. The focus on prevention is based on the fact that illness is not the only cause of death; illness can also cause premature death. Health promotion therefore focuses on early detection, with a view to identify and treat disease before it becomes serious. It also aims to provide the basis for healthy life through prevention and education, with an emphasis on lifestyle and nutritional habits.

The third definition of health would be healthy people. Healthy people are capable of taking control of their health. This means that they have the ability to maintain high levels of wellness and well-being, despite the presence of diseases. Healthy people are capable of overcoming minor obstacles that may result in greater disease risks if left untreated. This definition excludes those who need ongoing medical care to manage diseases, disabilities and conditions that would significantly affect their ability to live their lives as independently as they choose.

The fourth and most general definition of HEALTH is adapted from the perspective of the Institute of Medicine. Healthy people are capable of enduring mental stress and strain without resorting to suicide. They are able to manage acute physical illness and injury without jeopardizing their ability to live independently. Those who have experienced disability or disease are also included under the definition. However, absence or diminished ability to participate in society is a possible explanation for a reduction in the social participation and emotional well-being of these persons