Determinants of Health


Determinants of Health

Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a condition of total health wherein all aspects of the body are functioning optimally. The definition states that health is: “the absence of illness and disease, the status of adequate nutrition, security and mobility of the person, the capability of the organs to function at their optimum level, and the survival, health, and life expectancy of individuals.” Various other definitions have also been used over time. However, it has remained one of the most critical concepts in the field of public health and medicine.

One of the major objectives of public health is to promote health by decreasing health-related burdens and promoting healthy living. The major components of health are demographic, social, economic, biological, and environmental factors. There has been considerable progress in the field of public health science and medicine. There has been a tremendous improvement in the knowledge and techniques of medical science and health care especially in the fields of prevention, diagnosing and treating of diseases and their adverse effects.

Demographic-Social-economic determinants refer to the composition of a population and its habits and environments that determine their susceptibility to chronic diseases, premature death and vulnerability to health risks. Socio-economic conditions provide a rich source of empirical information about the determinants of health. These determinants include the size of the family unit, community structure, gender, ethnicity, education, occupational class and country of origin. Community characteristics such as social networks, recreational activities, availability of clean water, health service facilities and medical service are also important determinants of healthy environments and practices. The dominant culture and social determinants of health have an impact on the health and wellness of the people in a particular area.

Demographic determinants of health include age, gender, race/ethnicity, place of birth, and urban or rural residence. In addition, other factors such as occupation, comorbidity, existing health problems, availability of health care services and complementary care, and the quality of health care services may play a vital role in determining the health status of an individual. Age is one of the major determinants of health problems as a person becomes older. It has been observed that as a person gets older, he tends to become susceptible to various health problems. An increasing tendency is for elderly people to develop health problems as they become old.

Demographic determinants of health can also be influenced by occupational health. For example, it has been seen that persons working in hazardous occupations such as mining, construction and factory work, and agriculture are more prone to develop chronic health problems. Likewise, occupational safety measures have been adopted by health care sectors such as factories to prevent accidents and fatalities on the job.

Determinants of health may affect a population’s susceptibility to chronic diseases and to the development of new chronic diseases. If you want to remain healthy, you need to adopt a lifestyle that is healthy and free from stress. You should make efforts to get enough sleep, avoid too much physical and mental exertion, eat a balanced diet, and avoid unhealthy fats and junk foods. Maintaining a healthy weight by exercising on a regular basis can keep you fit and fine, and can reduce the risk of developing chronic illnesses. Having a healthy lifestyle, and following a nutritious and balanced diet, will ensure good health status, and thereby decrease the chances of getting sick.