What Are Determinants of Health?
Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a condition “of complete physical, emotional and social well being and not just the absence of sickness and disease.” Different definitions have been applied over the years for different purposes. However, health is considered to be a state that includes all the elements that are needed for a person to feel good about his or her health and be able to cope with his or her daily life. There are five components of health. These are: physical health, psychological health, social health, motor health and internal health. These five components of health are interdependent and cannot be described separately.
One component of health is physical health which refers to the ability of an individual to experience and perform physical activities. These may include bodily movements and the ability to engage in activities that are of a demanding nature. Mental health includes the capacity to acquire new knowledge and the ability to apply these knowledge. It also encompasses the capacity to learn from experiences and to communicate effectively. The ability to socialize is also part of the definition of this component of health. This component of health is influenced by the social determinants of health.
Psychological health is related to the capacity to maintain one’s individuality in the face of pressure. It is associated with the individual’s capacity to adapt and work in a socially competent manner. It is affected by both personal and environmental factors such as stress, trauma and depression and by changes in the environment. Motor health refers to the condition of the organs responsible for maintaining an individual’s capacity to perceive and execute movement. This may include respiratory, musculoskeletal and skeletal systems.
The fourth component of health is social well-being. It is closely associated with the physical and mental health and is affected by the quality of life, the self-image and the social support of an individual. It is the outcome of the relation between the disease and the individual’s social resources. There are many interrelated factors which affect the quality of social well-being. These include the self-image, self-esteem and the general outlook to life of the individual.
Determinants of health status include the age, sex, community or country of origin, ethnic origin, current health status, current use of medications, prevalent diseases and general health. There are various aspects of causality and they vary in their severity. There are various social factors that can reduce health status such as the availability of resources, the influence of social institutions and the support networks, the acceptance of the sufferer and the communities, the discrimination faced by the person and the environment in which he/she lives. Determinants of health promotion and disease prevention include access to health services, measures to reduce exposure to diseases and the prevalence of health risk behaviours.
Determinants of health need to be understood and included in the decision-making process on how to enhance the quality of life. The focus should be on identifying the various determinants of health and evaluate them over time so as to evaluate the changes in life course. Health promotion strategies should be developed in line with the assessment of the determinants of health needs and their effects on quality of life over the life course. Public health should be taken into consideration when evaluating the determinants of health. This includes the definition and determinants of health, the promotion of health, the monitoring and evaluation of health, treatment of diseases, statistical analysis on morbidity and mortality, population control and health planning.