"The key to National Health Improvement is more people making healthier choices more of the time." Discuss This essay aims to discuss making healthier choices in the socio-economic context of health. Health and public health will also be defined. Health has diverse meanings to various people; The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not only the absence of disease and infirmity. (WHO, 1948) However, this definition has been criticized by many authors (Aggleton 1990, Ewles and Simnet 1999,) for viewing health in static terms, being idealistic and failing to address the concept that health is not just determined by the individual. In addition, Blaxter (1990) defines health negatively, as the absence of illness, functionally as the ability to cope with everyday activities, or positively, as fitness and well-being. "Public health is the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting physical health and efficiency through organized community efforts for the sanitation of the environment, the control of community infections, the education of the individual in principles of personal hygiene, the organization of medical and nursing service for the early diagnosis and preventive treatment of disease, and the development of social machinery which will ensure to every individual in the community a standard of living adequate for the maintenance of health"(Baggott, 2000a). Ottawa Charter (1986), states that for people to reach a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, an individual or group must be able to identify and to realize aspirations, to satisfy needs, and to change or cope with the environment. Health is, therefore, seen as a resource for everyday life, not the objective of living. Health is a positive concept emphasizing social and personal resources, as well as physical capacities. The fundamental conditions for health are peace, shelter, education, food, income, a stable ecosystem, sustainable resources, social justice and equity. Similarly various commentators have identified various prerequisites for health to achieve a state of "complete physical, mental and social well-being" such as, adequate shelter, nourishing food, good hygiene practices, clean and abundant water and fuel are essential. (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, 2002) Evidence suggests that in many countries, current investment in health is inadequate and often ineffective. Increasing investment for health development requires a truly multi-sectoral approach, including additional resources to education, housing as well as the health sector. Greater investment for health, and re-orientation of existing investments- both within and between countries- has the potential to significantly advance human development, health and quality of life. Investments in health should reflect the needs of certain groups such as women, children, older people, indigenous, poor and marginalized. Jakarta Declaration (WHO, 1997) Equally important Baggott (2000b) argues that health is a fundamental human right and a social goal. And he further defines Health in appositive sense, in line with the classic WHO definition which includes mental, physical and social wellbeing, not just the absence of illness or disease and suggests that policies should be reoriented to focus on the maintaining and improving health. There should be consideration of the complex set of cultural, economic, social political and environmental factors, as well as biological and genetic components influences the health and well-being of populations (Annendale, 1998) In addition to that, Wardle et al, (2003a) argues that since healthy lifestyles are likely to benefit health over the long term, then socioeconomic differences in thinking about the future and expectations about the lifespan might affect motivation to maintain healthy lifestyles and awareness of the importance of lifestyle to...
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