Determinants of Health
The WHO defines health as complete physical, mental, and social well-being, without disease or infirmity. According to the 2017 Massachusetts State Health Assessment, genes account for only 15% of our health, while health care accounts for 35%. Hence, a healthy population depends on a multitude of factors that influence individual health, as well as the health of their communities. This includes the prevailing social and political environment, as well as our abilities to handle stress and acquire skills.
As the World Health Organization (WHO) has stated, health is the ability of humans to cope with their surroundings and maintain a healthy body. This implies that a person must have the necessary resources and education to enjoy good health. However, there are many other factors that influence health. These include environmental conditions, social networks, and lifestyles. These determinants can affect our ability to function and live productively. By understanding these determinants of our health, we can develop healthier lifestyles, and prevent disease and disability.
The World Health Organization’s Constitution – adopted in 1948 – recognises the right to health as a fundamental human right. It is an inalienable right of every individual to enjoy the highest possible standard of health, regardless of race, religion, political belief, or socioeconomic status. Many nation states have adopted this principle and are legally bound to protect their citizens from a variety of risks. Further, they must make provisions for the determinants of health, including food, housing, and hygiene.