Health and health: what are the differences

Health and health: what are the differences

Vailo today talks to you about the difference between the term health and health.

There are distinctions between the words “health” and “health”, although the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably. 

The main difference between health care and health concerns the fact that health is a condition of life itself, while health is an organized system born between the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century.

More details on the two terms in the next paragraphs.


According to the World Health Organization and its statute written in 1948, health means a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not the mere absence of a disease. 

This concept has undergone evolutions over time, and in fact today by health we also mean the conditions of the population of a community or a country in a given year. These conditions are measured taking into account the life expectancy , which in turn is determined by:

  • Lifestyle;
  • Socio-economic conditions;
  • Culture;
  • Genome: the genes of a person as a whole, therefore the DNA;
  • Quality of the environment;
  • Health services.

The health of citizens therefore does not depend only on the healthcare they turn to for the treatment and prevention of ailments and diseases, but on various other factors. Healthcare is in fact one of the various determining elements of health, and in the current conception it has a weight of 10-15%. 

On the other hand, lifestyle, socio-economic conditions and health have the greatest impact on health (40-50%). The genome accounts for 20-30%, while the environment for 20%.

Considering all the nations in the world, life expectancy in Italy is second only to Spain, and this is undoubtedly an encouraging figure for the beautiful country.


How can we describe health ?

For it there are several authoritative definitions (as well as for health) proposed over time. For example, in ancient times Charles-Edward Amory Winslow (1877-1957), renowned professor at MIT in Boston and founder of the Department of Public Health at Yale University, defined health care as the science and art of preventing disease. , extend life and promote both physical and mental health and efficiency.

According to Winslow, this all happens through the organized efforts of the community, in order to:

  • Improve the hygienic conditions of the environment;
  • Control infections and educate the person about personal hygiene;
  • Organize medical and nursing services for early diagnosis and therefore for the prevention of diseases;
  • Develop social organizations that can ensure each person a living condition suitable for maintaining a good state of health.

Today health is mainly understood to be that set of rules, professionals, structures and technologies that are dedicated to protecting the health of individuals.

Based on this set, health can be measured on the basis of three main parameters:

  • Size : number of professionals working, number of structures, etc.
  • Functioning , measurable in various ways, such as the hospitalization rate : this is an indicator that is obtained from the calculation of the number of hospitalizations of a population, divided by the total number of the population, multiplied by 100,000.
  • Expenditure , both per capita (i.e. per person, relating to individuals or families) and with respect to the GDP of the territory: for example, in the official documents of the Ministry of Health of the Italian government, the percentage of health expenditure in a determined period (one year, three years, etc.) with respect to the Italian gross domestic product.

Still on the subject of health, it may be useful to know the difference between:

  • Health system : the set of various elements that characterize the health organization of a given territory (region, state or country).
  • National health service : a specific health model, in which the state is called upon to manage and regulate the various aspects that characterize it. Italy, the United Kingdom and Spain, for example, have this type of service.

In the healthcare of different nations, depending on the case, there can be two types of models:

  • Solidarity model : the most widespread in Europe (including Italy), consists in asking the citizen to pay a tax to the State, regardless of the frequency of health facilities and the type of health services he receives. By doing so, the citizen can take advantage of public health assistance, which only in certain cases corresponds with the National Health Service.
  • Individualistic model : in this case, every citizen can turn to the health facility he wishes, based on his own financial resources.

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