The word health is a very broad term that is not easy to describe (Georgetown University, n.d.). When most people think of health, they are referring to a state when they do not have any ailments. In 1948, the World Health Organization (WHO) defined health as: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (World Health Organization, 1948). This definition remains until the present day.
A Comprehensive Health Definition
This a comprehensive definition that encompasses all of the facets of health and goes beyond simply describing health as not being sick. In essence, the WHO’s definition takes the broad term of health and creates categories of definition. For example, if someone’s traveling and relatives are concerned, they are most likely concerned about their physical health and safety. If someone is concerned about a friend’s added workload after a promotion, they are concerned about the person’s mental health. The WHO’s definition covers both categories of health.
A Challenge to the WHO’s Definition of Health
In 2009, an article in the Lancet challenged the WHO’s definition of health. This article proposes that the WHO’s definition is outdated and needs to be modernized to include the “new understandings of disease at molecular, individual, and societal levels” (Nordqvist, 2015).
Even though it is 67 years old, the WHO’s definition of health still has validity today in 2015. Being a healthy person means much than not having an illness. This deals only with the physical aspect of wellness but it leaves out the mental and social well-being aspects that make someone well rounded in health. It is important to note that while the WHO’s definition of health is broad enough to encompass all three facets of health, it is not overly-broad in an unwieldy manner.
While the Lancet challenge to the WHO’s definition holds some merit, it is simply encouraging the definition to be more minute and detailed in scope. Yet it is still the same definition. That is, the WHO’S definition could be examined and tailored to the molecular level, however, the platform from which this new molecular definition originates is just an expanded view of the same definition.
Georgetown University. (n.d.). Body / Mind / Spirit - Definitions of Health, Illness and Sickness: National Center for Cultural Competence. Retrieved July 3, 2015, from http://nccc.georgetown.edu/body_mind_spirit/definitions_health_sickness.html
Nordqvist, C. (2015, July 1). What Is Health? What Does Good Health Mean? - Medical News Today. Retrieved July 3, 2015, from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/150999.php
World Health Organization. (1948, April 7). WHO Definition of Health. Retrieved July 3, 2015, from http://www.who.int/about/definition/en/print.html