0610-HEALTH, Sihat & Amp; Aafiyat

Background reading material for Year 1 Semester 1 medical student PPSD session on 3rd October 2006 by Professor Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr.


Health is a positive state of being and not just absence of disease. Individuals who are disease-free may not be healthy. The components of good health are spiritual health, physical health, psychological and mental health, and social health.


We should look at health in a holistic sense. If any part of the body is sick the whole body is sick. If a member of a family is sick the rest of the family are affected emotionally and psychologically. Any sickness in the community will sooner or later have some negative impact on all the members. The holistic outlook also means that physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual health are considered together.


Health is relative and subjective. It varies by age, place, norms, gender, and state of religious faith. Health is often assessed subjectively using terms such as ‘good health’, ‘healthy’, ‘poor health’ and ‘unhealthy’. Attempts have been made to measure health more objectively based on the ‘disease model’ which defines health is absence of disease. The best index would be one that includes both spiritual and physical parameters. Such an index has not yet been constructed to our knowledge.


Keeping body in good health is a responsibility. Good health is a gift from the Creator. An ordinary person may not understand or appreciate the value of good health when in good health. On falling sick, the value of good health is understood and is appreciated but most often for a limited time. Everything is forgotten as soon as the illness is over.



The state of health is determined by nutrition, exposure to environmental risk factors, lifestyle, behavior, and religious faith. Diet is at the root of many diseases. The habitat also determines the character and behavior of people. The life style that people choose affects physical and mental health. Several life-styles that are injurious to health. There is a strong relation between character and behavior on one side and health on the other. Humans suffer from diseases of the heart such as jealousy, and rancor that lead to violence in the person or those around him. These diseases may manifest physically as psychosomatic illnesses or may manifest more dramatically such as homicide or bodily injury. Addiction to alcohol or drugs is a reflection of weak faith. It leads to many physical and psychological diseases



A healthy family promotes the health of all its members. There is no alternative to the family for child up-bringing. The family teaches trust, loyalty, a sense of belonging, and rights and responsibilities. It is an economic unit. It is the main source of primary health care. It is a source of calmness and tranquility.


Threats to the family are extra-marital sexual relations, neglect of family duties in pursuit material goods, extreme individualism and self-interest, and bad socio-economic circumstances.


 Dysfunctional families are not healthy in the physical and psychological sense and have long-term impact on the children. The causes of family dysfunction are multiple: economic pressures, a hedonistic life-style, and decline of moral and religious values in the society.



There bad and good communities. Community diagnosis is identifying and describing health problems in a community with a view to initiating public health interventions. Many communities are unhealthy in the physical and social or mental sense.


Underlying causes of poor community health are social and moral such as social injustice, immorality, sexual promiscuity, over-nutrition, and addiction to alcohol and drugs. Community health can be improved by having healthy individuals in the community, fulfilling communally obligatory functions, and establishing mutual cooperation and mutual complementation.



Most diseases can be prevented using spiritual approaches. Spiritual promotion at the community level involves enjoining the good and forbidding the evil. Physical health promotion at the individual level includes immunization, good nutrition, personal hygiene, and disinfection. Physical promotion at the community level involves environmental sanitation.


Health promotion involves pro-active measures that make health better such as exercise, good nutrition; adequate rest; mental calmness; tranquility of family life, and spiritual calmness.

Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr. October 2006