In the United States there are many ways to measure and assess one’s health. We all know that it is a good idea to monitor our weight, for our health. But did you know that some people measure their health in totally different ways?
Overall health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a state of full physical, emotional and social well being and not just the absence of sickness and disease. A wide variety of different definitions have been applied to overall health. But in most cases, a good general health definition is a reasonable representation of how we feel on a day-to-day basis. It is a reasonable representation of how we act in our relations with others, both those within our social environment and those with whom we interact physically.
Health equity has been recognized as a significant concept in the field of public health, in particular in the areas of preventative care and substance abuse. Health equity essentially recognizes that health is a complex system of causes and effects, affecting people of all races, ethnicities, economic statuses and health status. There are several major theories associated with understanding health and its complex interrelationships with life expectancy, disability, morbidity, quality of life and longevity. The perspectives of global health equity theory draw upon ideas from international settings, such as the perspective of the WHO and the United Nations.
Another perspective on health is the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Health Problems (IDSHDP), which provides a list of six globally recognized disease categories and their definitions. These diseases include the six known major causes of death: cardiovascular, respiratory, genital, digestive, infectious and non-infectious disorders. According to this view, disease defines a physical condition or occurrence that causes death, impairment or pain. According to this perspective, healthy life style, good nutrition, active involvement in community health management programs, use of medicines as prescribed, utilization of health services and control of viral, bacterial and fungal diseases are essential for maintaining a healthy and disease-free society. However, while all these are important elements of good health, there are still numerous health problems, which require additional attention and focus, such as those of substance abuse, poor education, teenage pregnancy, undernutrition, income disparity and poverty.
An action plan should be developed to address health equity issues, focusing on improvement in the status of women, reducing health disparity by race and ethnicity, promoting healthy diet and nutrition, eliminating racial and ethnic health disparity and eliminating poverty. In addition to these steps, there are additional strategies that should be implemented for closing health equity gaps. Among these strategies are training programs for staff to promote healthy lifestyles; establishment of community organizations to provide support to neglected communities; promotion of community-based programs to provide education about health and social problems; introduction of primary health care and monitoring health trends and practices. While all these strategies have great potential to significantly improve health, the need for greater investment is needed to achieve the desired levels of improvement.
A successful strategy for health promotion involves a multi-prong approach that not only improves the current health of the population, but also eliminates existing health disparities and promotes prevention of future health disparities. It involves five components, namely improving the quality of life through better nutrition and active participation in communities; promoting active engagement in health promotion activities; creating opportunities for racial and ethnic groups to eliminate racial and ethnic differences in health behaviors and health outcomes; providing technical assistance to improve health through training and other interventions; and providing financial support to improve the health of disadvantaged people. This financing can come from federal agencies and other sources. One of the most important factors that contribute to the achievement of a multifaceted integrated program for health promotion is the consistent application of policies designed to reduce health disparities.