Health is defined in the WHO constitution of 1948 as: A state of complete physical, social and mental well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
Within the context of health promotion, health has been considered less as an abstract state and more as a means to an end which can be expressed in functional terms as a resource which permits people to lead an individually, socially and economically productive life.
Health is a resource for everyday life, not the object of living. It is a positive concept emphasizing social and personal resources as well as physical capabilities.
In keeping with the concept of health as a fundamental human right, the Ottawa Charter emphasizes certain pre-requisites for health which include peace, adequate economic resources, food and shelter, and a stable eco-system and sustainable resource use. Recognition of these pre-requisites highlights the inextricable links between social and economic conditions, the physical environment, individual lifestyles and health. These links provide the key to an holistic understanding of health which is central to the definition of health promotion.
Today the spiritual dimension of health is increasingly recognized. Health is regarded by WHO as a fundamental human right, and correspondingly, all people should have access to basic resources for health.
A comprehensive understanding of health implies that all systems and structures which govern social and economic conditions and the physical environment should take account of the implications of their activities in relation to their impact on individual and collective health and well-being.