What is health?

Some thoughts on World Health Day at April 7th, 2014

by Martina Zelt/LKO,  2014/04/07

On behalf of medical emergency and catastrophe help, with worldwide hundreds of voluntary field forces, humedica mainly cares for one thing: health. But what does this mean ‘to be healthy’ and which value has health got in the lives of different people?

Is it just a matter of purely physical well-being and if so of which kind?

Due to the World Health Organization, health is “a condition of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not only the absence of illness or infirmity.”

Against this background, the health definition does not only comprise our own body’s condition, but also our mind and our social relations.

In English, the word health is derived from the word whole. So health implicates wholeness, the healthy man is a harmonious unit of body, mind and soul.

The Old High German original word gisunt comprises the meanings “happy, good, intact”.
Thus, happiness and health are probably also in a close mutual relation. Not only health is necessary for personal happiness, but also reciprocally: personal happiness makes us healthy!

Worldwide survey: What does health mean for you?

But what does health mean to people all over the world? Always different – always the same? humedica has asked and has received answers from very different countries:

      “Health is the physical, mental and spiritual constitution of the individual.”
      (Cindy, project leader from USA)

      “A healthy person has clean clothes, can support the family and is brave and happy.”
      (Sadiya; refugee in Ethiopia)

      “Being healthy, for me it means that I don’t have to be worried about my health.”
      (Linda, project coordinator from Germany)

      “Health is the best thing which can happen to us. If we are healthy, we are able to lead a good life in the family, in society and in

      (Magali, responsible of a children’s day care center in Brasil)

      “I appreciate my health very much, because it gives me the strength to realize my dreams.”
      (Dave, project leader from USA)

      “The highest value my health gives to me, is to be able to lead a quiet life with my children.”
      (Burbuqe, war widow in Kosovo)

      “Of course, my health is very important for me. Because health simply is life.”
      (Wisan, nurse on the Philippines)

      “If you lose your health, everything is lost. If you are not healthy, you cannot work anymore and this leads to poverty and hardship.”
      (Arber, war orphan in Kosovo)

The humedica health definition also comprises more than the purely physical aspect. Of course, physical healing ranks first for humedica doctors, especially during a catastrophe operation. But when an individual is being treated, this person with their feelings and their stories count as a whole.

Numerous reports of humedica field forces attest that inconceivable pain always needs dressing material as well as a hug, a conversation and an open ear. Caring for the soul and caring for the physical wounds go hand in hand.

“In a catastrophe (…), thousands of people need help. However, we always try to put our focus on the person who is standing in front of us. Besides the classical treatment, this person also needs attention, a prayer or simply a place, where they can talk about their experiences”, also explains humedica field team member Judith Kühl.

For the World Health Day 2014 we cordially wish you: health for your body, mind and soul!

Your humedica team

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