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What is health:

Health is the general state of a living organism, as it executes its vital functions in an efficient way, which allows it to function properly in its environment.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the concept of health is linked to a state of physical, mental, and social well-being, and not only to the absence of diseases.

Health is also defined on two levels: a subjective level (the subject believes that they are in well-being) and an objective level (when there is data that allows verifying this state).

The term health comes from the Latin Salus, salūtis, which means ‘salvation’, but also ‘greeting’. Hence, the verb to greet implies wishing the other health.

In a broad sense, health is also spoken of to refer to the state and functioning of a group, an institution, or an activity. Used as an interjection (‘Cheers!’) It is a formula for toasting.

Factors affecting health

In 1974, Canada presented a report called “A New Perspective on the Health of Canadians, known as the Lalonde Report, in honor of the then Minister of Health, Mark Lalonde, who presented the study.

This report served to determine the existence of four factors that had a marked impact on the health of the population, namely:

Human biology

This includes genetic factors that can influence the appearance of diseases or conditions that alter the state of health.


It has to do with aspects such as environmental pollution, the conditions of physical spaces or structures (home, workplace, public areas), as well as socio-cultural factors that influence life habits.


It refers to personal habits (food, hygiene, physical activity, social relationships, sexual activity).

Health care organization

It includes access to and use of the health system (both public and private), as well as it’s quality.

Health and hygiene

There is a direct relationship between the application of hygiene standards and the preservation of health. Hygiene refers to all hygiene and care measures, both for the human body and for physical spaces.

In this sense, habits such as daily bathing, brushing, and dental care, and the elimination of waste from the environment are just some measures that prevent the appearance of diseases and therefore, constitute an essential factor in the maintenance of individual and collective health.

Mental health

Mental health is a state of balance and mental, emotional, and social well-being in which the person is aware of their capabilities and can cope with the normal demands of life and be productive for society. However, the World Health Organization has not established a definition for this term.

Mental health refers to the emotions, feelings, attitudes, and behaviors of a person and their social relationships.

Self-perception, autonomy, and subjective well-being (how the person thinks they feel) have a direct influence on mental health.

Some of the clinical conditions related to mental health are depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and eating disorders.

Public health

Public health is the discipline that is responsible for studying and implementing measures to ensure the health of the population.

Public health includes the organization and operation of health services, the implementation of strategies for the prevention of diseases, as well as the protection, promotion, and restoration of the health and quality of life of citizens.

Some measures that depend on public health have to do with sanitary control of the environment, pest control, health promotion activities, and the development of programs that allow determining risk factors in the health of the population.

In most countries, public health policies are executed by a ministry of health or similar body.

Reproductive health

Reproductive health has to do with access to sexual rights for women and men, which implies that they may have the ability to enjoy a satisfactory sexual life without the risk of diseases, in addition to free choice in their family planning.

Reproductive health implies access to information and methods concerning the regulation of fertility in a safe and accessible way, as well as services related to assistance during pregnancy and childbirth, provided by the public health system.

The above is framed in the so-called reproductive rights, a concept that, although it was created at the Tehran conference of the WHO and the United Nations in 1968, would have a broader definition in the Program of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development. , held in Cairo in 1994.

It is then when it is established that reproductive rights are based on a recognition of the right of all individuals and couples to make decisions regarding their sexual and reproductive health without suffering any type of discrimination.

Some reproductive rights are:

  • The right to self-determination of one’s own body.
  • The right to procreation.
  • The right of access to reproductive health.
  • The right of access to technological and scientific advances in sexual and reproductive health.
  • The right to choose a partner and marry without suffering coercion.

Physical Health

It refers to the physical environment of the person, the state, and the functioning of their body.

A person with optimal physical health can better integrate into society, developing their potential and contributing to the well-being of society in general.

The influence of biological, environmental, and social factors have an impact on physical health, but lifestyle also plays a fundamental role.

Adequate nutrition, regular exercise, healthy emotional and social relationships, and access to health services are factors in which the person can directly intervene to contribute to maintaining their health and preventing diseases.