Good health is not as simple as the absence of disease or infirmity but ideally encompasses a state of physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being. Good health is essential to the social, environmental and economic welfare of a community.
Personal health depends on a person’s knowledge, willingness and ability to manage physical or mental health conditions – overall or specifically – to prolong a single life. Personal health affects one’s quality of life as an individual, but it can also affect that of “the herd”.
Public health is an organized effort to inform society of its choices in keeping healthy – promoting community health to preventing or treating a disease-state. Public health promotion requires partnerships between the health sector (public health, doctors, hospitals, etc.), all levels of government, businesses, developers and community groups.
The big picture
Although pandemics are fewer in developed countries than elsewhere globally, there is evidence of resurgence and a call for on-going diligence in preventing widespread disease.
Currently, the predominant health concerns in developed countries are chronic disease brought on by otherwise-modifiable behavior – smoking, alcohol consumption, poor nutrition, obesity, physical inactivity and toxins from our environment. The resulting cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes and cancer are the main causes of poor physical health and death.
Many determinants of good health are social, economic and environmental factors encountered at the local level by residents in their communities: early life, a stable ecosystem, education, immigration status, employment security, food security and quality, gender equality, health care services, housing, social “safety net”, social inclusion, equity and justice.
We do well at acknowledging that not everyone has equality in access to the systems needed to obtain and maintain optimal health And, we’re innovative in putting safety nets in place: affordable and public housing, a community health center, and the mobile dental health clinic, community nurse and registered dietician at the food pantry.
Despite these successes, health challenges remain—and new ones are emerging—that require creative, modern shifts in how the town operates. We need to advance the cause of public health by requiring improvements in our air, water, and buildings. We need to enable individuals to live healthier lives, building upon and supporting the ongoing initiatives to promote equal access to the essentials of long-term good health – a smoke-free environment, fresh food, daily exercise, and preventive dental, vision, health care, including behavioral and sexual health care.