Elements of Health Promotion
Health is a condition where illness and infirmity are completely absent. It is our basic human right to live a life free from sickness and disease. Various definitions have been employed over the years for various purposes. However, when people speak of health they typically mean well being. In a very real sense health is synonymous with death if it is not maintained.
Health and disease have long been linked. There are many examples of this, however the most obvious example is that of sexually transmitted diseases. An example of a preventable ailment is pelvic inflammatory disease or PID; this can easily be prevented by using protection during intercourse and the correct behaviour during sex. The other way in which population health is promoted by public health programmes is through general education and its main function is to inform the general population about disease prevention and its causes.
The main aim of a public health programme is to decrease the occurrence and spread of diseases by defining acceptable behaviour and promoting appropriate education about these matters. By managing disease a programme promotes overall health by creating awareness and preventing disease through simple activities such as vaccination. By defining what is normal and promoting healthy behaviour a programme ensures that a healthy life course is established and everyone is fit and healthy. The other functions of a programme include implementing community based programmes to improve general health, providing treatment and care for those who need it and creating environments where disease cannot flourish.
Health problems tend to occur in young adulthood and so one of the first tasks of a public health service is to create the environment in which young people can thrive and achieve their full potential. This is done through enhancing healthy diet and physical activity, establishing good health care provision and encouraging good health behaviour. Prevention through education and behaviour modification means that there is always a chance to avoid health problems before they become serious. Prevention through treatment means that once health problems arise they can be treated effectively. If a problem cannot be avoided then the best solution is usually to treat it. Community services, schools, health programs and research facilities all contribute to creating a healthy environment and ensuring a better standard of living for all.
The second element of health promotion is to define and describe the disease so that people can understand it and learn to cope with it. A definition is very important because people become ill with different diseases. For example, there are some diseases that are genetic such as cancer, AIDS and diabetes. Other non-genetic diseases are associated with external factors such as toxins, tobacco smoke, air pollution, chemicals and radiation. Diseases associated with mental health should also have a clear definition and explanation as well as a definition of the treatment involved. This includes psychosocial treatment such as grief counselling, group therapy and support groups.
Determinants of health are important to consider when designing a strategy for the promotion of health. Determinants refer to both external and internal factors that contribute to the existence and the development of an illness or disability. These may include social aspects like general health, wealth and income level, occupation, place of residence, educational background and others. Determinants of health also include the determinants of longevity such as age, gender and genetic factors. It also includes causative factors such as genetics, early life experiences and environments.