The WHO Constitution of 1948 defines health as a state of
complete physical, social and mental well-being, and not
merely the absence of disease or infirmity. In addition, the
Ottawa Declaration states an “individual or group must be
able to identify and realize aspirations, to satisfy needs, and
to change or cope with the environment. Health is, therefore,
seen as a resource for everyday life, not the objective of living. Health is a positive concept
emphasizing social and personal resources, as well as physical capacities”. (1)
Health education
“Consciously constructed opportunities for learning involving some form of communication
designed to improve health literacy, including improving knowledge, and developing life skills,
which are conducive to individual and community health.” (2) The WHO health promotion glossary
describes health education as not limited to the dissemination of health-related information but
also “fostering the motivation, skills and confidence (self-efficacy) necessary to take action to
improve health”, as well as “the communication of information concerning the underlying social,
economic and environmental conditions impacting on health, as well as individual risk factors
and risk behaviours, and use of the health care system”. A broad purpose of health education
therefore is not only to increase knowledge about personal health behaviour but also to develop
skills that “demonstrate the political feasibility and organizational possibilities of various forms of
action to address social, economic and environmental determinants of health”.
Health literacy
“The degree to which people are able to access, understand, appraise and communicate
information to engage with the demands of different health contexts in order to promote and
maintain good health across the life-course.” (3)
Health promotion
“The process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve, their health.” (1)
Definitions provide...