Community Health Promotion
Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a condition of “excellent health with minimum health: a state of proper being with full capacity for the normal growth of the body and mind.” Various definitions have been applied to health over the years. One definition from the WHO is, “Expectant health and well-being; healthy life expectancy; good health; the maintenance of good health and physical capabilities.” Another definition is, “Expectant health and well-being; health at the minimum possible risk.” And, the third definition is, “palegaena wellness: the quality of life extending over the minimum possible risk.” Each of these definitions is important to the health of the human population.
When it comes to defining health, the concept of well-being is considered by many to be one of the most important determinants of health. According to the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Health Problems, well-being is, “the quality of being in proper conjunction with the standard of living at a common situation and time.” The definition of adequate well-being by these medical models includes the following elements: psychological balance, social adjustment, bodily health, functional ability, and somatic health. These determinants are necessary to maintain the human condition.
It is the responsibility of governmental and private organizations to ensure that all citizens have access to a full range of services to bring them up to par with the world’s standards of health and well-being. This includes but is not limited to, the implementation of a comprehensive public health program, including effective primary care, effective preventive care, community health programs, and integrated care. Community health programs address both the individual and family levels. In addition, comprehensive public health programs also address other issues such as tobacco use, alcohol use, and drug abuse, while making recommendations for modification of social attitudes and behaviors that promote unhealthy lifestyles and lead to health disparities.
Public health promotion begins at the planning phase. This planning phase is critically important to the achievement of the goal of improving health. For example, if there are serious health disparities in health characteristics between racial or ethnic groups, this may lead to a number of consequences, such as lesser consumption of health products, use of less healthful goods, higher rates of emergency room visits, and other serious health problems. Public health promotion includes research, development of community services and policies, monitoring and evaluation of programs, and education and promotion of public awareness of health issues. In addition, measures are taken to address the social determinants of health. The practice of social determinants of health has been termed as “social interventions” or “social justice”.
At the implementation phase, what have been the results of the public health programs and interventions? Evaluations have shown that most communities achieved health equity and progress in several areas. An action plan for health equity would include strategic plans and initiatives addressing key issues such as access to quality health services, appropriate use of resources, prevention of health disparities, ensuring effective coordination of services and programs among different settings, and strategies to improve quality of care. Community health promotion also involves monitoring and evaluation of the programs implemented and evaluate the impact of these strategies on reducing disparities. A monitoring program should include periodic assessment of how well community partners are supporting the action plan as well as assessment of the effectiveness of the program and its impact on reducing health disparities.
Although steps are being taken to address the health equity concerns among the diverse communities across the country, there is still insufficient understanding of the causes of health disparities. Health disparity can be the result of systematic racism, gender biased practices, socio-economic conditions, ethnicity, poverty, illiteracy and other structural barriers. Health equity is the difference between people who have good health and those who do not. Eliminating the disparity will reduce the burden on the poor and vulnerable and will increase healthy competition among people to bring about improvements in their health. Health Equity will be improved when communities work together to identify the barriers that keep them from reaching the goal of better health for all.