The WHO Definition of Health

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well being. It is a fundamental right of every human being.

A person’s health is closely linked to his or her environment. Health reflects a complex interplay of genetics, social, economic and environmental factors.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as a state of complete physical, mental andsocial well being. Health enables people to achieve their full potential and live their lives with meaning.

Health is a resource that supports the wider society. The WHO definition is consistent with the biopsychosocial model of health. This model focuses on interactions between the physiological, psychological, social, and environmental determinants of health.

While this model provides a clearer understanding of the underlying determinants of health, it fails to account for the growing number of people with disabilities. Additionally, the ‘complete health’ view of health is unrealistic and contributes to overmedicalisation of society.

The WHO’s founding constitution aims to provide a new vision for health. This new vision is based on the idea of a basic human right. Unlike the previous negative conceptions, it envisions health as a condition of social and physical well being, and not simply the absence of disease.

In order to promote healthy behaviours and activities, the WHO defines health as a resource for living. It also proposes shifting the emphasis from the focus on eliminating diseases to the focus on the individual’s ability to adapt and self-manage.

Although this definition acknowledges the subjective component of health, it does not take into consideration the wider determinants of health. As a result, this approach is limited.