Health, in a living organism, can be understood as homeostasis - the state in which the organism is in balance, with inputs of energy and mass and outputs of energy and mass in approximate equilibrium (minus whatever mass is retained in the normal growth process), and the prospects for continued survival of the organism are positive.
In humans, with the capacity to analyze and anticipate, health can be understood not only as immediate homeostasis - that is, everything being all right at the moment - but also subjectively as the understanding of the potential of the "healthful" balance being able to continue. The study of health of humans and animals is health science. Doctors, dentists, and biologists are health scientists.
This understanding comes from somatic perception, including pain and discomfort, as well as cognitive perception, such as one's knowing that they look well, are functioning as well as they always have, and knowing that no imminent external or internal risk endangers the healthful state.
In the late 20th century, the subjective perception of healthfulness in human beings came to be known as wellness.
Health care or healthcare as a general term refers to the delivery of medical services by specialist providers, such as midwives, doctors, nurses, home health aides, vaccination technicians and physician's assistants. Usually such services receive payment from the patient or from the patient's insurance company, although they may be government-financed or delivered by charities or volunteers, particularly in poorer countries.
Health care can form an enormous part of a country's economy. In 2000, health care costs paid to hospitals, doctors, diagnostic laboratories, pharmacies, medical device manufacturers etc., consumed an estimated 13 percent of the GNP of the United States.
Health care services include preventive care, vaccination, diagnosis, prescribing and administration of medicine, surgery, observation, and attendance at childbirth.
Prior to the popularisation of the holistic neologism healthcare, English-speakers referred to medicine or to the health sector and spoke of the treatment and prevention of illness and disease.
For a politico-economic discussion on the delivery of health care, see healthcare system.
World Health Organization
|WHO headquarters in Geneva|
Copyright: WHO/Pierre Virot
Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the World Health Organization (WHO) is an agency of the United Nations, acting as a coordinating authority on international public health. WHO was established by the UN on April 7, 1948.
After years of fighting smallpox, WHO declared in 1979 that the disease had been eradicated. It is nearing success in developing vaccines against malaria and schistosomiasis and aims to eradicate polio within the next few years.
Other than actually curing already occurring diseases, the organization also put a lot of effort into producing articles on the cause of diseases. Leading to that they besides eradicating disease also, for instance, makes campaigns to boost consumption of vegetables world wide, take a negative stance towards tobacco, and research whether or not the electromagnetic field surrounding cell phones have a negative influence on health.
Members of the UN appoint delegations to the World Health Assembly, which votes for the WHO Director General -- currently, Jong-Wook Lee.
Notable Persons Associated With the WHO
Health tourismHealth tourism
is travel to improve one's health, such as a visit to a health resort or weight-loss camp.
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Health science is a medical discipline of applied science which deals with human or animal health. There are two parts to health science: the study, research, and knowledge of health and the application of that knowledge to improve health, cure infectious diseases, and to understand how humans and animals function. Health science research builds on the pure sciences of biology, chemistry, and physics and also social sciences (for example medical sociology).
There are a wide range of traditional areas of health science. The most common areas are: medicine, nursing, midwifery, and various forms of therapy to supplement the healing process and restore proper activity (e.g. recreational, physical occupational, speech, and respiratory). Health science includes both the study and application of preventing and curing human diseases and disorders. Medical doctors include physicians and surgeons. There are many different branches of medicine; the other health care professions also have specialties or focus on specific populations or settings of care. Other less common medical areas include first aid and triage.
Dental health has grown in importance in recent decades making dentistry a major field of health sciences. Counselling, hospice care, home care, nutrition, medical social work, alternative medicine, pharmacology, and toxicology are all considered part of health science. Veterinary science is the health science dedicated exclusively to the care of animals.
Because health science deals with human life, issues of medical ethics, an
important area of ethics, arise frequently. Medical ethics includes
questions on topics such as a patient's right to privacy. Euthanasia,
abortion, human cloning and genetic engineering are especially controversial issues directly related to health science.
Health science fields are as old as the human race. Humans have always been in need of solutions to various health related issues, such as childbirth. With modern technology and the backing of the pure sciences, the scientific accuracy of these fields has greatly improved. Nevertheless, many cultures have and continue to use various herbs and other culturally specific solutions to help solve health problems. These solutions may or may not be backed by any scientific support.
There are a large number of health professions. The terms medicine or biomedicine, and medical doctor or M.D. refer to dominant conventional practices in the West.
Conventional Western practices
Complementary and alternative medicine
Folk medicine and related traditions
Health practices of historical interest
External links and references
means a profession in which a person exercises skill
or judgment or provides a service related to:
(a) the preservation or improvement of the health of individuals, or
(b) the treatment or care of individuals who are injured, sick, disabled or infirm.
See also : physician, nurse, pharmacist