Public Health Policy
Health is an ambiguous state of being where infirmity and illness are absent. It is an idea that is as old as humanity and probably longer than the concept of God itself. Various definitions have been used over time for various purposes. However, when people speak of health they usually refer to a state not existing under normal circumstances.
Health is often defined by its absence. It can be viewed as something that is undesirable because it is absent or it can be seen as something that everyone has to work to achieve. Perhaps this is because we live in an imperfect world and everyone strives for health and physical well-being. Perhaps this is because health is seen as something that can be achieved and not something that must be worked for. It can also be seen as something that must be managed and not something that can be developed or created on its own.
In recent years, there has been a move to de-emphasize the importance of physical health and instead focus more on the need to manage the presence of illness, disability or the symptoms of mental illness. Some of the recent changes to the definition of health have included the addition of substance abuse and dependence to its definition. The introduction of the word disorder was accompanied by the emphasis on the idea that there is a distinct separate field of medical knowledge and diagnosis separate from the field of mental health. There is now a tendency to see illness as a personal challenge that can be overcome through the application of techniques, coping mechanisms, therapies and support systems. These are viewed as the tools or coping mechanisms that one can use to regain control over life and gain better control of the physical body.
What this means in practice is that physical illness, disablement, injury and disease all need to be managed separately from the idea that there is a separate field of medicine, much the way that the separate fields of the brain are treated and understood. It is argued that good health is self-evident since the absence of ill health will cause no suffering or loss of life and the absence of good health will cause suffering or loss of life. The introduction of the concept of wellness has also resulted in some changes in the definition of health itself. For instance, being healthy has been described as having an optimal level of the five factors: balance, nutrition, vitality, structure and control. Although this may seem like an uncontestable statement, research has shown that people do live in different ways, with some maintaining good health and others not, and it is for this reason that health maintenance programmes are often seen as important steps towards achieving a sense of well-being.
Wellness and health policy have entered the lives of many people in new ways. For instance, a number of organisations and companies have begun to provide health insurance as a complementary part of their employee benefits package, thus providing an opportunity for illness and disability to be managed in a socially responsible way. In addition, there are a number of organisations that design work packages for employees that take into account their existing illness and lifestyle factors in order to create an even healthier work environment. These firms have gained considerable popularity as employers that offer a range of flexible work opportunities, enabling people to fulfil more of their potential, also contribute to higher levels of job satisfaction and productivity. As well, some companies have adopted a health and wellbeing policy, encouraging their staff to take part in health awareness events, such as charity runs which are designed to raise consciousness about the illness and help create a healthier future for everyone.
In recent years, public health education activities have increasingly become a central part of community life. For example, campaigns have been run to improve health among the elderly, as well as helping communities understand the links between physical activity, diet and physical health. By running community-based events, raising awareness and introducing new policies that can help communities tackle the many challenges associated with poor health, public health is playing an increasingly important role in improving the physical state of society.