A multifaceted concept

The topic of health has many sides, it is both heterogenic and normative. It’s contents is influenced heavily by the perspective of the afflicted person.

On a global scale, health is embossed by world perspectives, cultures and respective life conditions. National health standarts are dependant on available resources, the current level of science and technology, and the respective circle of law. From an individual perspective, the term health is no absolute but constantly changing along the course of age and the specific life circumstances of the respective individual.

Politicaly the meaning of health is viewed as an ideal to aspire to, containing bodily, mental and social well-being. As an example, the 1948 WHO definition “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of desease or infirmity”. At the Ottowa conference in 1986, the promotion of health became understood as a process to provide all individuals a greater amount of control over their health and to allow them a greater over all well-being. Basic rights to bodily and mental intactness, Art. 10 Par. 2 Constitution, is to bi understood more specifically. Next to curative treatment, preventitive mesures and health-neutral interventions are being determined which work for the upholding and recovery of health.

The medical profession usually defines health as a subjectively discernable lack of any bodily, mental or spiritual dysfunctions resp. as a condition wherin sickness and pathological changes cannot be detected.

The scientific, purely biological view often understands health as the lack of sickness.

The continuously expanding medical sciences see health as the ability to exploit ones own potential to the fullest, thus being able to master the surrounding challenges and difficulties of life.

The need for clarification in health policies

This understanding has more and more influence in national health politics. It is necessary to clarify which health interest are to be protected and encouraged by government, how the public health agenda should be prioritised and how collaberation between public and private institutions should be structured. Hereto linked are the numerous challenges that are attributed to the subject area of health; e.g. humane research, public health service, and the production and distribution of medication. The spread of pandemics such as HIV, tuburculosis and bio terrorism against civil society, access to clean water, nutrition, and education on the resourceful consumption of the environmants are in the global health-related limelight.

A description of the current research projects on health and human rights can be found here.

Prof. Dr. Brigitte Tag, Dr. Julia Müller, Prof. Dr. Johannes Fischer