Social Understandings of Health

Table of Content

Health and WHO Definition

This essay will be an elaborative discussion on HEALTH definition. According to WHO, health is defined as a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. I think Health definition according to WHO is not apt exactly because physically is mentioned where if it is the case no one can be healthy and being physically strong doesn’t mean individual is not prone to illness. Also, they included mental and social well being conditions. Definitely depends on individual’s mental and social well being conditions. Not only these factors but also there is necessity of adding term environment because it influences an individual at high level as hygiene strikes the major place in health.

Various Social Understandings of Health

In many conditions, health understandings differ from community to community based on their social life, environment, health status and genetics. According to Christian community, health is defined as per WHO. According to Hindu community, health is defined as body must be maintained under normal and also in abnormal conditions. They also teach about ethical and healthy blended conditions where the spiritual objectives were culminated. They conclude health is maintained when they cultivate good habits and also in spiritual, physical well-being. To my opinion, health is definition is apt if the spiritual is not added as it is not a dependent factor. Even though, if an individual is in conductive to spirituality, bacteria or microbes attack can’t be avoided. In our class study as mentioned, Bok has proposed a health definition by containing spiritual in it. He defined health, it is a dynamic state of complete physical, mental, spiritual and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity. Dynamic is little reliable as changes are accepted and illness may be from it but spiritual can’t be as an individual can’t be stopped from affecting. In 1996, Syme said that health was viewed as biomedical construct and it has limited their ability to integrate process that produces underlying case of disease and produce health.

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According to American community, they also consider health as a biomedical construct. It is in which determined by provision of healthcare. They are in belief that, health is affected majorly by it and they confirmed it by examining well baby clinics and services for crippled children. Poverty and geography also influences. In some communities. Later in 20th century, improved health access by medical aids. According to Tinetti and Fried, main focus on disease is inadvertently lead to wrong statement. Ottawa charter for health promotion re-framed WHO definition as the complete mental, physical and social well-beings must change or move with environment and satisfy the needs. It also demonstrates that health is a positive concept of emphasizing social and personal resources. It is because when people have hope and move on with environment, then health is seen as a resource. So, health sector must be aware of the environmental factors even. I also think, health according to Jambroes et al. approach is suitable because the new definition framed was only adaptable in the condition where they are in control. If an individual is in restriction and can control there won’t be a chance of diseases or disorder where illness may cause. There is also another model known as Meikirch model to define health as it is a state of well being emergent from conductive interactions between individual’s potentials, life’s demands and social environmental determinants. Health is a state where it differs from communities and it depends on all 3 factors. He says individual potential is nothing but biological potential. It is mainly because health de-generates or constructed depending on momentum of birth and also social determinants of health.

Health sector must be aware of including spiritual phase in definition because being a spiritual, individual cannot be avoided in prone to illness. As health is a universal quality where as in defining it, also adding physical is not apt as being physically fit doesn’t indicate he is healthy. They must also be aware of the conditions which occur in the human body widely due to some reactions. Also, the condition of an individual can’t be considered as ill or unhealthy if he has some abnormal conditions physically like color, size etc. Abnormal conditions may also vary due to different races and communities. For example, if a person is miniature, some consider it as non-healthy condition bur I think he can’t be considered as un-healthy as he may inherited from genes and can work same as normal individual. These are some differences where the health sector must be aware.

Finally, I opine that change in physically can’t be regarded as illness. According to WHO definition, healthy condition must be physically fit. Even though he is physically fit he can be affected or influenced emotionally and there may be prone to illness. Another condition to be considered is sexual difference as in many of the cases like disease occurrence, different health issues. I support Yentyl syndrome as it is mentioned in that women are misdiagnosed by not treating women until some symptoms are observed in men. I conclude that according to my opinion, health can’t be defined based on physical whereas environment and should also defined with respect to gender.


  1. Bok, S. 2004, ‘Rethinking the WHO definition of health .’ Population and Development Studies Working Paper Series Volume 14(7). Cambridge, MA: Harvard Centre for Population and Development Studies.
  2. Tinetti, M. E. and Fried, T. 2004, ‘The end of the disease era’, American Journal of Medicine, vol. 116, no. 3, pp. 179-85.
  3. ‘Health and health care – a Hindu perspective,’ US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health
  4. 2019, ‘Health for all nations, ’ health, no.1
  5. Jambroes, M., Nederland, T., Kaljouw, M., van Vliet, K., Essink-Bot, M-L. and Ruwaard, D. 2016, ‘Implications of health as ‘the ability to adapt and self-manage’ for public health policy: a qualitative study’, European Journal of Public Health, vol 26, no. 3, pp. 412–416,
  6. Huber M., Knottnerus J A., Green L., van der Horst H., Jadad A. R., Kromhout Daan et al. 2011, ‘How should we define health?’ BMJ, vol. 343: d4163.
  7. Bircher J, and Hahn E. G. 2016, ‘Understanding the nature of health: new perspectives for medicine and public health – Improved wellbeing at lower costs’, F1000Research vol. 5, pp. 1-16,>.
  8. Criado Perez, Caroline, 2019, ‘Yentl syndrome: a deadly bias against women’, Longreads, viewed 5 July 2019 .

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