Health and Human Rights

the modem view of health is broad it goes beyond

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Unformatted text preview: The procedure is designed'to achieve a colIective good (less tooth decay, arid better dental hmlth). This action will not guarantee every individualfreedom from dental caries, but it will reduce the overall amount of caries occurring in the popuiatjqn. Public health actions seek to promote the health of the community. ,Next, it is essential to identify the conditions required for people g be o healthy. First, however; the definition of "health" needs to be recalled. International Federation of Red Cross et al. Public Health: A Introduction n The World Health Organization has defined "health" as "a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." The modem view of health is broad. It goes beyond individual diseases or viruses and includes all of the aspects of life that can affect our physical, menta1,or social well-being. Clearly, there are many underlying conditions that can influence a person's well-being. Such conditions include: access to medical services the physical environment the biological environment the social environment . . In general, in order to achieve its goals, modern public health efforts tend p.r£wus on primary prevention and, to a lesser extent, on secondary or reaiary prevention approaches. , :$k .'. ' , . ' cM W IN ~ ~ C E &lawi s public. health work--concerned with "collective" action and the health of populations-carried out? Its specific domain is public, at the -c~rmnunity,national, or global level. It therefore relies upon measures directed t o small or large groups of people, rather than dealing separately ,w&b.each individual. For all these reasons, a substantial portion of public !health work is carried out by governmental or official agencies. However, in !&pGcountries, an important amount of public health work is provided by Imligious and other nongovernmental institutions. % , - work of public health agencies can be summarized under three head. ; ins: assessment, policy development, and the assurance of s b c e s . p Of these, the major determinant of population health status is societal. I n summary, public health works to ensure that the underlying conditions needed for physical, mental, or social well-being are provided to all people in society. HEALTH PROMOTION AND DISEASE PREVENTION 1' I I :; ':: ' Promoting health (physical, mental, and social well-being) involves three levels of prevention. Primary prevention is "pure" prevention, or preventing the health problem from occurring a t all. Examples include: preventing lung cancer through avoidance of tobacco smoking; preventing polio by vaccinating children with a polio vaccine; or preventing rickets by ensuring an adequate intake of vitamin D. This is clearly the ideal (and usually the most cost-effective) approach. While primary prevention can be accomplished in several ways, education and active participation of people are essential. Primary prevention is often referred to as health promotion, the process of "enabling people to increase control over, and to improve their health."l In many cases, despite efforts at primary prevention, a health condition occurs (for example, high blood pressure). Secondary prevention involves prompt detection and successfil management or treatment of the health condition so as to avoid actual damage to the person's health. For example, early detection and treatment of high blood pressure can prevent the strokes or kidney damage which result from uncontrolled hypertension. Finally, if primary prevention and secondary prevention have both failed or are not possible, and a person's health has already been damaged, tertiary prevention seeks to limit the impairment, increase the quality of life and prolong life. Examples include: providing emergency care for victims of automobile crashes; rehabilitative services to help maximize activity and independence after a stroke or heart attack; or hospice care to ensure a higher quality of life for terminally ill people. I' .: ,,Toassess health status, develop policy, and assure services,.public health &eds t o collect information about populations. The science of epidemiology :stdies the distribution and determinants of health-related states and events @ populations, with the goal of providing critical information for control of ' health problems. c~For'%xample, epidemiological study discovered the relationship between vitamin A intake and certain behaviors (smokand between bottle feeding countries. The power of epidemiologicgl was also demonstrated in t he HIVIAIDS epidemic. Several years virus of AIDS ( HIV)was discovered, epidemiologists identified the the virus f rom person to person. Based able to?formulate rational preven- ! ~~sssessmenteans collecting and analyzing data in order to identdy and m Understand the major health problems facing a community. .' Policy development establishes goals, sets priorities, and develops strategies .. t o address he...
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