The term “health” has many definitions. It can be defined as a state of physical, mental, and social well-being. Health reflects the complex interactions between genetics, environment, and lifestyle. The definition of health depends on both the determinants and interventions of a person’s health. Here are some of the most common definitions and their significance for health and wellbeing. The definitions of health and disease have varying levels of scientific rigor.
Georges Canguilhem’s 1943 book, The Normal and the Pathological, rejected the concept of a single, defining state of health. Rather, he viewed health as a process of adaptation to one’s environment. There is no fixed definition of health; it varies from person to person. Health is a state of well-being that matches an individual’s functional needs and circumstances. In the context of medical practice, the role of a doctor is to improve a person’s ability to adapt to various conditions.
During the mid-1950s, life expectancy worldwide was about fifty-eight years for men and 52 for women. Several diseases were rampant, such as diphtheria and polio, and infant mortality was the primary cause of low life expectancies. By contrast, chronic diseases have improved greatly. In mid-century, stroke, heart disease, and cancer were the top three causes of death. Clearly, we can see that all three of these conditions have changed, but we must maintain our vision of health and well-being for all.