The Definition, Factors and Importance of Health

The Definition, Factors and Importance of Health

With regards to the numerous Importance of Health, Better health is central to human happiness and well-being. It also makes an important contribution to economic progress, as healthy populations live longer, are more productive, and save more.

Definition of Health

The term ‘health’ is a positive and dynamic concept. In common parlance, health implies absence of disease. However, that industrial health implies much more than mere absence of disease is clear from the following definitions of health:

The World Health Organization (WHO) has defined health as: “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or illness or infirmity”. As regards the industrial health, it refers to a system of public health and preventive medicine which is applicable to industrial concerns.

Here, the definition of health given by the joint I.L.O/W.H O. Committee on Organizational Health is worth quoting:

(i) The prevention and maintenance of physical, mental and social well-being of workers in all organisations;

(ii) Prevention among workers of ill-health caused by the working conditions;

(iii) Protection of workers in their employment from risk resulting from factors adverse to health; and

(iv) Placing and maintenance of the worker in an occupational environment adapted to his physical and psychological equipment.

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Thus the modem concept of health emphasizes on the “whole man concept.” In other words, health refers to the outcome of the interaction between the individual and his environment. So to say, he/she is healthy who is well adjusted with environment.

The modem concept of health thus, anticipates and recognizes potentially harmful situations and applies engineering control measures to prevent disease or illness or infirmity. In this way, industrial health depends not only on the individual worker but also on the environment in which he/she lives and works.

Types of Health

1) Physical Health

The physical health refers to infirmity in the employee’s health. Employee’s physical health and his work are intimately related. While an unhealthy employee works less both quantitatively and qualitatively, commits accidents, and remains absent from work, a healthy employee produces results opposite to these. The same underlines the need for and importance of healthy employees in an organization.

2) Mental Health

This refers to the mental soundness of the employees. As is physical health important for good performance, so is mental health also. Experience suggests that three factors, namely, mental breakdowns, mental disturbances, and mental illness impair the mental health of employees.

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Importance of Health

The trite saying ‘Health is Wealth’ explains the importance of health. Ill health results in high rate of absenteeism and turnover, industrial discontent and indiscipline, poor performance, low productivity and more accidents.

On the contrary, the natural consequences of good health are reduction in the rate of absenteeism and turnover, accidents and occupational diseases.

Besides, employee health also provides other benefits such as reduced spoilage, improved morale of employee, increased productivity of employee and also longer working period of an employee which, of course, cannot be easily measured.

In long and short, employee health is important because it helps:

1. Maintain and improve the employee performance both quantitatively and qualitatively.

2. Reduce employee absenteeism and turnover.

3. Minimize industrial unrest and indiscipline.

4. Improve employee morale and motivation.

Occupational health services should be established in or near a place of employment for the purpose of:

(i) Protecting the workers against any health hazard arising out of work or conditions in which it is carried on;

(ii) Contributing towards worker’s physical and mental adjustment; and

(iii) Contributing to establishment and maintenance of the highest possible degree of physical and mental well-being of the workers.

The Definition, Factors and Importance of Health
The Definition, Factors and Importance of Health

Factors for Good Health

Health depends on a wide range of factors.

A person is born with a range of genes, and in some people, an unusual genetic pattern can lead to a less-than-optimum level of health.

Environmental factors play a role. Sometimes the environment alone is enough to impact health. Other times, an environmental trigger can cause illness in a person who is genetically susceptible.

Access to healthcare plays a role, but the WHO suggests that the following factors may have a bigger impact on health than this:

  • where a person lives
  • the state of the surrounding environment
  • genetics
  • income
  • education level
  • relationships with friends and family

These can be summarized as:

  • The social and economic environment: Including how wealthy a family or community is
  • The physical environment: Including parasites that exist in an area, or pollution levels
  • The person’s characteristics and behaviors: Including the genes that a person is born with and their lifestyle choices

According to the WHO, the higher a person’s socioeconomic status (SES), the more likely they are to enjoy good health, a good education, a well-paid job, afford good healthcare when their health is threatened.

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People with a lower socioeconomic status are more likely to experience stresses related to daily living, such as financial difficulties, marital disruption, and unemployment, as well as social factors, such as marginalization and discrimination. All these add to the risk of poor health.

A low socio-economic status often means less access to healthcare. People in developed countries with universal healthcare services have longer life expectancies than people in developed countries without universal healthcare.

Cultural issues can affect health. The traditions and customs of a society and a family’s response to them can have a good or bad impact on health. For example, around the Mediterranean, people are more likely to consume high levels of fruits, vegetables, and olive, and to eat as a family, compared with cultures with a high consumption of fast food.

How a person manages stress will affect health. People who smoke, drink, or take drugs to forget their problems are likely to have more health problems later than someone who combats stress through a healthful diet and exercise.

Men and women are prone to different health factors. In societies where women earn less than men or are less educated, they may be at greater risk than men for poor health.

Preserving Health

The best way to maintain health is to preserve it through a healthful lifestyle, rather than waiting until we are sick to put things right.

This state of enhanced well-being is referred to as wellness.

The McKinley Health Center at the University of Illinois IL defines wellness as: “A state of optimal well-being that is oriented toward maximizing an individual’s potential. This is a life-long process of moving towards enhancing your physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, and environmental well-being.”

Wellness promotes an active awareness of and participation in health, as an individual and in the community.

Maintaining wellness and optimal health is a lifelong, daily commitment.

Steps that can help us maximize our health include:

  • a balanced, nutritious diet, sourced as naturally as possible
  • regular exercising
  • screening for diseases that may present a risk
  • learning to manage stress
  • engaging in activities that provide purpose and connection to others
  • maintaining a positive outlook and appreciating what you have
  • defining a value system, and putting it into action

Peak health will be different for each person, and how you achieve wellness may be different from how someone else does.

It may not be possible to avoid disease completely, but doing as much as we can to develop resilience and prepare the body and mind to deal with problems as they arise is a step we can all take.

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