The Definition of Health – A Clarion Call for International Action

The World Health Organization has been defining health as complete physical and mental well-being. The definition of health is a clarion call for international action. During the mid-century, life expectancy for men was 48 years and women’s was 53 years. Polio, diphtheria, and other infectious diseases were common. Despite advances in medical research, these diseases still accounted for a large share of premature deaths. The WHO constitution recognizes the need to redefine health as a comprehensive concept.


According to the World Health Organization, health refers to complete physical, social, and mental well-being. It is a human right to enjoy the highest attainable standard of wellness. People should be able to exercise their right to health by participating in healthy activities, reducing harmful ones, and avoiding situations that can impair their health. In addition to physical and mental well-being, health also includes emotional and social well-being. While many factors affect health, others are structural and are the responsibility of individuals.

The World Health Organization has recognized health as a human right in its constitution, which came into effect in 1948. It states that enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is a fundamental right, irrespective of race, political beliefs, economic status, or social position. Numerous nation states have endorsed the right to health as part of their constitutions. As such, they are legally bound to protect access to quality health and make provision for the determinants of good-health.