WHO and Health Promotion Essay Sample

This essay will begin by discussing the different definitions of health that have been put forward, and will also discuss the necessity of health promoters to be able to understand why there are differing definitions of health and the importance of the difference in our understanding of what health means to the individual. There have been many definitions of health, which include phrases such as ‘absence of disease’, and ‘ability to cope’.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) (1946) gave its definition of health as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’. However, it is very difficult to define health due to its complexity and broadness. Health and well-being can be described as the absence of physical illness, disease and mental distress.

This is a negative definition of health and well-being, as it is impossible for a person to free from illness or disease. Health and well-being can also be described as the achievement and maintenance of physical fitness and mental stability. This is a positive definition of health and well-being or health and well-being as being a result of a combination of physical, social, intellectual and emotional factors.

Stimson and Webb (1975) carried out research which suggested that people have their own private comments on their own ill health, compared to what they chose to tell their doctors. The research indicated that people did not always believe or accept the medical explanation given for their illness. The study suggests people hold their own views and hold their own explanations for ill health. (Doyal. L. at el. (1991) A Theory of Human Need. London. Macmillan) Health promoters have to collect a significant amount of information before they can put out a campaign on a particular disease.

They have to look at health models and their approaches and even statistical information from CENSUS reports, death certificates, survey’s, and even General Practitioner (GP) records and so on. The World Health Organisation (WHO) defined health promotion as ‘enabling people to gain control over their lives’ (WHO 1986). There are four approaches to take in to consideration before putting together a health promotion campaign, and they are: The medical approach: this focuses on activity which aims to reduce morbidity and premature morbidity. Activity is targeted towards whole populations of high-risk groups.

This kind of health promotion seeks to increase medical interventions which will prevent ill health and premature death. The medical approach is conceptualised around the absence of disease. It does not seek to promote positive health, for example ‘Smoking advertisement’, smoking adverts only advertise damage the body will develop through regular inhalation of tobacco.

This kind of promotion can be criticised for ignoring the social and environmental dimensions of health. In addition, the medical approach encourages dependency on medical knowledge and removes health decisions from people concerned. The medical approach also relies on having an infrastructure capable of delivering screening or an immunisation programme. This includes trained personnel, equipment, laboratory facilities, and information systems which determine who is eligible for the procedure and record uptake rates.

And in the case of immunisation, a vaccine which is effective and safe. The educational approach: the purpose of this approach is to provide knowledge and information, and to develop the necessary skills so that people can make their own informed choice regarding their health behaviour. The educational approach should be distinguished from a behaviour change approach, and that it does not set out to persuade or motivate change in a particular direction. However, this will be the service user’s voluntary choice, and it may not be the one the health promoter would prefer.

The educational approach is based on a set of assumptions about the relationship between knowledge and behaviour: that by increasing knowledge, there will be a change in attitudes which may lead to a change in behaviour towards a healthier lifestyle. To provide educational information to clients regarding health and well-being, provisions would have to be put in place, through the following resources: leaflets, booklets, visual displays or one-to-one advice with their own GP. By providing these sources this may provide opportunities for people to share and explore their own attitudes towards health education.

Empowerment: This approach helps people to identify their own concerns and gain the skills and confidence and for the person to act upon them. Social change: this approach recognises the importance of social-economic environment’s in determining health. Its focus is at the policy or environmental level, and the aim is to bring about changes in the physical, social and economic environment which will have the effect of promoting health. This approach will also look at social class, the promoter will take in to consideration people’s gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, working, unemployed and so on.

Basically the social approach will look at theories that are linked to social class and determine whether or not, that poverty and low social class are the reasons for high mortality rates linked to a specific disease. This is when the promoter will now go away and put together his/her campaign. The Acheson Report (1998) shows that there is an existence of health inequalities and their association to social class, in this report there is data, even though there is a down fall in mortality, the superior classes take in to account more rapid mortality deterioration.

Also The Black Report (1980) shows that there are higher levels of poverty in the lower class and higher death rates due to ill health, the higher social class live in a more advanced area which is much more suitable for living conditions, but in contrast to that, people who live in a higher class seem to live in the centre of a city which is much more prone to pollution. LO2

Whether we come from poverty, working class or a higher class background, there are many health influences all around us, for example the environment we live in can influence our health; for instance, living with a partner who is controlling can impact on the stability of mental health, living in a city centre can influence poor health due to pollution (inhalation of fumes from motor vehicles and fuel plants).

Although living in a higher class society can have a positive effect on better healthcare, there are still factors of negative influences on health and well-being. Smoking, eating the wrong types of food, lack of exercise, no socialisation, alcohol, misuse of drugs, all these things can have an enormous negative effect on our health and well-being. However eating the correct foods (5 ADAY) and consuming the correct portion size as well as combining at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day can have a great deal of positive’s upon our lifestyle. For instance exercise is good for the brain as well as the body.

According to NHS Choices (2013) ‘by eating five portions of fruit or vegetables and just 30 minutes of activity a day, will increase the secretion of Serotonin within our brains’.

Serotonin is a hormone found in the brain, it influences our mood, sexual function, appetite, sleep, memory and learning, temperature regulation, and some social behaviour. So we could say the more Serotonin we produce the healthier the brain becomes, which results in a happier you. LO3

For the third and final part of this essay I am going to talk about the political side of health promotion within the UK and take a look across the globe at other parts of the world. Health Promotion is everywhere we look, especially in the media. We see it every day in the news whether it be on the television or in the newspapers. Health Promoters plan and develop ways to help people to change their eating and exercise habits to improve their way of life. There are lots of Health Promoters today that campaign against unhealthy living.

Health Promoters give you guidance to a healthier lifestyle whether it is help with eating habits, smoking, alcohol intake, oral health, physical activity and mental health. Each and every one of us will indulge ourselves in to a habit and put ourselves at risk of chronic diseases at some point in our lives. According to Dr Robert Beaglehole (2011) “The real tragedy is that more hasn’t been done to avoid this epidemic, as overweight and obesity, and their related chronic diseases, are largely preventable”. Approximately 80% of heart disease, stroke, type 2 Diabetes, and 40% of cancer could be avoided through healthy diet, regular physical activity and avoidance of tobacco use.”

This is why Health Promotional campaigns are important, as it gives us a better outlook on life and can also expand our lives too (Huffington Post) 2011. Health promotion is an important element of the government’s health agenda. On forming a new government, the new labour set public health policies in line with its health agenda. Out of this rose a new white paper Saving Lives: Our Healthier Nation, which sets ambitious targets for life expectancy to be increased, and inequalities in health to be reduced.

The Labour Government plan to achieve this through its public health policy in a “third way” (Connelly 1999). ‘Labour’s policies are aimed at strengthening communities, and encouraging individuals to seize opportunities and take responsibility for their action’. The Government hopes to improve the health of individuals by reducing health inequalities through health promotion. By doing so the Government will look at a range of different sources of information before they decide the need of a health promotion campaign.

The Government have their own facilities to obtain information such as up to date statistical evidence via the website www.direct.gov/statistics . They can also obtain information from Registry Offices, such as marriage certificates, death certificates and birth certificates. By doing so, the Government will acquire accurate results to continue lobbying the new health promotion campaign needed to address the UK to improve quality of life.

Before the campaign can be given the go ahead to become a final document, the Government have to look for ethical errors. For instance is the health promotion campaign fair to all people who are involved, meaning, does the campaign aim its information at all service users or is it aimed at a particular generation, gender, culture and so on. For a health care promotion to be respected it has to be aimed at everyone regardless of the persons background. By involving all service users, promoters can eliminate discrimination and visually display that equality and diversity are no longer an issue within our society especially in the health care sector. (2096 words)

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