The WHO Definition of Health


World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being without disease or infirmity.” This definition is a bit different for different people. For example, a person who lives at sea level can develop heart attacks due to the strain of heavy shovelling while residing in the mountains. People who live in coastal areas may suffer shortness of breath or anemia due to the change in climate and environment. As such, the definition of health needs to be flexible.

The third definition of health cannot end with the prevention and control of disease and risk factors; it must also address individual values. The value of health is a vital motivator for people to take preventive actions or seek treatment when necessary. While prevention is the best way to achieve this, it is not enough. A person’s health needs to be based on their priorities and the risks that they are exposed to. This is where the third definition of health comes in.

This definition of health is based on the biopsychosocial model of health, which examines the interaction between physical, psychological, and social factors in a person’s life. This model ignores chronic illnesses and disability and contributes to the overmedicalisation of society. The WHO definition of health, on the other hand, is based on an overall sense of wellbeing. In addition to the biopsychosocial model, it includes the presence of symptoms and disease in a person’s life.