Health: an issue of social justice

Health: A issue of social justice

Health has evolved, over the centuries, from an individual concern to a worldwide social goal. A brief account of the changing concepts of health is given below:

1. biomedical concept

Traditionally, health has been viewed as an absence of disease, and if one was free from disease, then the person was considered healthy. This concept , known as the biomedical concept has its basis in the germ theory of  disease which dominated medical thought at the turn of twentieth century. The medical profession viewed the human body as a machine and disease as a consequence of the breakdown of the machine. One of the doctor’s tasks was to repair the machine. Thus health, in this narrow view, became the ultimate goal of medicine.

The criticism that is levelled against the biomedical concept is that it has minimized the role of the environmental, social, psychological and cultural determinants of health. The biomedical model, for all its spectacular success in treating disease, was found inadequate to solve some of the major health problem of mankind by elaborating the medical technologies. Developments in medical and social sciences led to the conclusion that the biomedical concept of health was inadequate.

Health is on one hand a highly personal responsibility and on the other a major public concern. It thus involves the joint efforts of the individual, the community and the state.

2. psychosocial concepts

Contemporary developments in social, psychological, cultural, economic, and political factors must be taken into consideration in defining and measuring health. In other words, health is not only a biological but also a social phenomenon.