Public Health and Wellness: Prevention and Policy Focus
Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is “the condition of being fit, free from illness and free from danger”. Different definitions have also been applied for various purposes over the years. Today, the general attitude is that health means being in good shape physically, mentally and emotionally. It is important to note that health is not a thing that can be achieved in a day or two. It takes time, patience and caring.
One’s health has a lot to do with one’s well-being. A person’s well-being is affected by physical, mental, emotional and ecological factors. There are a lot of factors that contribute to a person’s well-being, and prevention of diseases and disability is one of them. Prevention can be done through good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle.
The determinants of a person’s health are determined by five major factors: physical activities and environments, social determinants of health, work and living conditions, life expectancy, and health behaviors and practices. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), health reflects the knowledge and behaviors related to providing healthy environments and physical activities, maintaining a healthy social environment and taking care of the individual’s life style and habits. WHO recognizes five major determinants of health namely, age, gender, community/personal economic status, nutrition and genetic background? These are the determinants WHO uses to identify the patterns of health within the larger global context. They also provide guidelines on the best possible way of coping with the challenges and dangers of diseases.
The concept of wellness has become more connected with the promotion and maintenance of good health through the practice of preventative care, promoting community well-being, reducing disease risk factors, maintaining and building community immunity and fighting transmissible diseases. In recent years, preventive care has become an increasingly important area of focus as prevention is better than cure. There are many strategies to promote healthy living including educating the public about wellness, providing information on how to maintain and strengthen good health, creating policies and programs to implement quality improvement, developing standards of care, devising ways to protect the vulnerable and ensure access to quality health care and developing prevention programs. Prevention strategies focus on strategies to reduce the burden and risks of diseases associated with poor nutrition and infectious diseases.
Promotion of wellness and the improvement of public health through better nutrition and practices is achieved by shaping healthy diets, promoting physical education, promoting the community’s awareness of health and the risks associated with diseases, and ensuring access to quality health care. Public health and the environment can be viewed as a whole, each component of which is intimately connected with each other and contributes to a healthier society. The environmental aspect of health includes issues related to population trends, nutrition, water quality, occupational hazards, air pollution, tobacco use, animal welfare, food safety, product safety, and disease prevention. Public health and wellness encompass a wide range of interventions including promoting physical education in school, vaccines against diseases that are spread due to unsafe practices, and are providing information on how to prevent, detect, and treat common diseases.
Developing a healthy lifestyle is a multifaceted approach that involves healthy eating, regular exercise, weight loss and maintenance of a healthy body weight, quit smoking, quitting alcohol and other tobacco use, and making wise choices regarding personal health care. All these add up to an infirmity-free life free from any type of disability. An infirmity is a body or mind problem that affects one or more organs or systems of the body. A mind-body connection is strong and when a healthy diet, exercise, and a lifestyle consisting of healthy behaviors are part of a person’s lifestyle, it increases his or her chance of living a long life free from disability.