Ángel Abad Revilla and Tomás Hernández Fernández. April 7, 2023
Health is the dynamic towards physical, mental, emotional and spiritual balance with oneself and with the social environment and the biosphere, which enables one to face life challenges in a way that allows one to develop a fulfilling and conscious life.
Health is dynamic balance and conscious connection.
We propose A New Definition of Health. Ángel in Madrid, Tomás in Barcelona. We do it on the 75th anniversary of the constitution of the World Health Organization.
Why? Why are we considering a new definition of health? What drives us?
People’s health is what drives us. Dedicating ourselves to it, as we do, is our dream, our passion. Our wish is for everyone to enjoy a health that allows them to lead a dignified, full and satisfying life.
Throughout history, different cultures and contexts have developed different definitions of health and illness.
This new definition was born from two friends, health professionals, doctors, specialists in Public Health and Family and Community Medicine, who share a desire with 8 billion human beings: that each one of us should be healthy and enjoy a full and conscious life. What moves us is our passion for health.
We are driven to protect, promote and restore health and prevent disease for people everywhere and of all ages. Availability at of a definition of health adapted to today’s world is a further step in contributing to this.
Health is one of the most important human rights. The epidemic of COVID19 and the new threats to global health teach us that there is nothing more important in our lives. Not money, not prestige, not power. This time and place is a great opportunity to redefine our life priorities. Health is the great pillar of our existence.
Our alternative definition arises with the aim of adapting to today’s world, a globalized world of connections, connections between people and with the environment.
Our new definition is based on conscious connection with oneself and the world, in a dynamic balance.
What for? What is this definition for?
To protect the right to health and to have coordinates to help us better orient the policies and strategies needed to do so.
Health is one of the most important human rights.
Health is one of the most important dimensions of life, along with happiness and love. It is a great value and a great goal.
Health and happiness are similar. They are born from different traditions and disciplines, and they walk towards the same place, a full, satisfying, conscious, meaningful and harmonious life.
Health is global, it has a planetary dimension.
Health is a dynamic process, it is not static. It is a harmonious process. It is a process of continuous search for balance, which lasts a lifetime.
It transcends the biological and mental dimensions and includes the emotional. For many people it also includes the spiritual dimension.
The approach is personal, societal and biosphere. All these approaches, these different levels, are interrelated.
To be healthy it is essential to know oneself, this is one of the dimensions of consciousness. Resilience enhances health.
The external world is the social and environmental surroundings. In traditional Indian and Chinese medical systems it is understood that there is a macrocosm outside the individual and a microcosm formed by the individual. Macrocosm and microcosm influence each other.
Health is subjective and therefore self-perceived. It is measured in the same way that happiness, love, wisdom or beauty are measured. Even so, we can devise ways to objectify it to some extent in order to evaluate health interventions.
It is not dichotomous. You can be more or less healthy.
Health can be protected, promoted or restored. Disease, understood as imbalance, is prevented. Restoring imbalance is restoring health. These are all different levels of action and different actors put more emphasis on one or the other. Current health services tend to focus on restoring health.
Conceptually, illness, understood as imbalance, is contrary to health.
Illness, as a life event, invites us to give it a meaning that allows us to integrate it into our biography. Illness is an indicator, a messenger, which signals an imbalance and allows us to address it in order to regain our health.
Being ill, understood as imbalance, is not always the same as having a nosological diagnosis of illness. The nosological diagnosis of illness is an artifice, a convection, although it is useful because it helps to make clinical and care decisions.
It is possible to be in poor health without the need for a nosological diagnosis of a specific disease. You can have a lot of health with a nosological diagnosis of one or several specific diseases, so that you can have health, for example, with caries, with myopia, with diabetes…
Having a nosological diagnosis of a chronic disease, commonly referred to as chronicity, does not mean that one cannot be healthy.
Ageing is not synonymous with illness.
It is difficult to have individual health without collective health. Taking care of collective health is also a way of protecting health at the individual level.
Health is not only determined on a physical level, but also on a mental, emotional and spiritual level.
Sustainable humandevelopment makes it easier to be healthy. The Sustainable Development Goals, proposed by the United Nations, are directly related to the determinants of people’s health. Achieving them makes it easier for people to be healthy.
The One Health paradigm is basic to health. Everything in the biosphere is interconnected and interdependent. The loss of harmony in this web of connections results in the loss of health of the biosphere and thus of human beings. Each of the living beings that make up the global ecosystem and its environments are fellow travelers, not threats. Health is global.
Genetics, the genes we have inherited, partly determine our health. Recent research also highlights the importance of epigenetics; our habits and living conditions can also influence the health of our children in this way.
The lifestyle habits that people adopt or can adopt also determine their health. These lifestyle habits are conditioned or determined to a large extent by social issues.
Interpersonal relationships have a powerful influence on health: couple relationships, family relationships, friendships, support networks, belonging to a community… Loneliness and isolation make people ill.
The community, the community sphere, is an important determinant of health and also one of the spaces par excellence for health intervention.
The socio-economic, cultural and political context, the economy, the environment, education and work allow us to have the necessary living conditions to be healthy; they are social determinants of health.
Equity in health is also a value anda prerequisite for achieving individual and collective health. Inequity generates disease and many other social problems.
Different forms of violence damage health directly and indirectly.
Health is a right. The human rights approach and the analysis of its violations is a good way to understand the health and disease dynamics of populations.
Health has a global, planetary dimension. It always has, but more than ever in the century in which we live.
Climate change is a threat to people’s health. The climate crisis is a health crisis.
The different exposures to which a person is subjected at any given time or throughout his or her life (exposome) determine health.
As in ancient Eastern philosophies we can say that the human being is a microcosm integrated in a macrocosm. Keeping ourselves in harmony and balance at the individual level has an influence on the social level and the whole biosphere. Conversely, we cannot escape the influence that society and the biosphere exert on us as individuals.
Health systems are about health generation, but not much. They are primarily concerned with the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of disease.
When talking about services, it would seem reasonable to speak of health services rather than health services. Most of what are now called health services are in fact «sickness» services, services that are mainly attended by sick people and whose primary aim is often to restore health.
Yet, restoring health is essential to guarantee the right to health, and the provision of adequately sized and financed public health services must be ensured.
The health sector must work with the community and with other sectors (housing, employment, education, food, etc.)in the public and private spheres to have a real and efficient impact on the health of the population.
1. Health is conscious connection and dynamic balance.To be healthy isto be part of a network of harmonious relationships.
2. Knowing and being consciously connected to oneself is fundamental to health.
3. To improve and care for the social environment and the biosphere is tomake it easier for people to be healthy.
4. The primary objective of states and public policies should be to createthe conditions necessary for individuals to be healthy.
5. Moving towards the Sustainable Development Goals is about making iteasier for people to be healthy.
6. The focus of health is not on health services, it is on living conditionsthat are determined by society and the biosphere.
7. Protecting health is what brings the most social and economic value.
8. Working for people’s health is an attitude, it is a way of being. Acharming way of being.
We, the authors of this new definition, do not seek money, prestige or power with it. This definition is not copyrighted. We are delighted that anyone who can use it to improve people’s health uses it. People’s health is what moves us. Devoting ourselves to it, as we do, is our dream, it is our passion. That is our reward.