What is Health?

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The immense value of health to human life has been universally acknowledged.  As declared in 1948 in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control[1].

The ‘Constitution of the World Health Organization’ which came into effect in 1948 also recognises health as a basic human right and states that “the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition”[2].

With numerous nation states endorsing the right to health as part of their constitution, these are legally obliged to safeguard access to quality health in a "timely, acceptable and affordable" manner, whilst ensuring provision for the determinants of health[3].   

The meaning of ‘health’ can be individually viewed from various perspectives.  Understanding how different individuals consider health on a personal level could provide professionals with useful indications on what can influence behaviour with respect to health and wellness within the general population[4].    


Defining Health

Models of Health

Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

Ethical Issues

Relevance for Physiotherapists



  1. United Nations. Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Available from: https://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/ (accessed 22 June 2019).
  2. World Health Organization, BASIC DOCUMENTS [forty-eighth edition]. 2014. Available from: http://apps.who.int/gb/bd/PDF/bd48/basic-documents-48th-edition-en.pdf#page=7 [accessed 22 June 2019]
  3. World Health Organization. Human rights and health. Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/human-rights-and-health [accessed 22 June 2019]
  4. Hughner & Kleine, 2004 cited in Scriven A. Promoting Health - A Practical Guide. UK: Elsevier, 2010.
  5. World Health Organization. What does your health mean to you? Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wjzQVuDej4 [accessed 22 June 2019]