Comprehensive Health: What is it?

Comprehensive health can be defined as “Health in general, which include promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative health. In other words comprehensive health includes health promotion, prevention of diseases (if possible specific protection/prevention), early diagnosis and treatment, disability limitation and rehabilitation after appropriate treatment. Comprehensive health covers each and every aspect of health.

Comprehensive health is generally the domain of Governments and not profit charitable organizations like NGOs (non government organizations). In private setup of health care like private hospitals and nursing homes, generally only curative part (i.e. early diagnosis and treatment and to some extent disability limitation) of comprehensive health is catered for. Hospitals (both private as well as Government hospitals) concentrate on the curative part of comprehensive health.

Intervention is the main aspect of comprehensive health. Intervention is an attempt to intervene or interrupt the normal sequence of development of disease in humans at any stage possible. Comprehensive health means intervening the disease process at some stage of disease or even before the disease appears. The following methods are used for intervening any disease:

  • Health Promotion.
  • Specific Protection.
  • Early Diagnosis and Treatment.
  • Disability limitation and Prevention.
  • Rehabilitation.

1. Health promotion:

Health promotion can be defined as “making the people to be able to have better control over their health and also to improve their health. Health promotion not directed against any particular disease, but it is intended to strengthen the individual through variety of processes like health education, nutritional intervention, lifestyle & behavioral modification and environmental changes.

(a) Health education: This is a cost effective way to intervene in disease process and can give residual benefits to the individual and to the country as a whole. If people are educated about diseases a large number of disease can be prevented if people have knowledge about the diseases and how to prevent them. Personal hygiene, safe drinking water etc. are some ways to educate people in general. Knowledge about the mode of transmission of diseases and how to prevent them can be very helpful in preventing the spread of diseases, especially communicable diseases. the WHO incorporated in its constitution the importance of health education and advice to educate general public, health care providers, community leaders, decision makers, patients and specific susceptible groups.

(b) Nutritional intervention: It includes food fortifications (iodization of common salt, addition of vitamin A to edible oils etc.), food programs (like School Lunch Program in India which supplies 1/3 of total calorie and ½ of daily protein requirement) etc.

(c) Lifestyle & behavioral modification: This can also be considered as part of health education. Lifestyle & behavioral modification is very important in preventing and delaying chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases. Healthy lifestyle adoption is essential for healthy life.

(d) Environmental changes: Comprehensive health is not complete without environmental changes, which include provision of safe drinking water, proper excreta disposal, control of insects and rodents, proper housing etc. Many disease were controlled in the past even before development of vaccines or antibiotics by environmental changes.

2. Specific protection:

This is done to prevent a disease, but it is possible to prevent only limited number of diseases. Vaccination (against a particular disease), specific nutrient supplementation (supplementation of folic acid to prevent neural tube defect in newborn), chemoprophylaxis, accident prevention/protection (wearing seatbelts while traveling), protection of occupational hazards, avoidance of carcinogens (tobacco), control of air and noise pollution, avoidance of allergens, control of quality and safety of drugs, foods and cosmetics etc. are used for specific protection.

3. Early Diagnosis & Treatment:

Early diagnosis of a disease can help in better prognosis and to prevent complications. If a communicable disease is diagnosed early it can help in preventing the spread of the disease. Early diagnosis is also very important in chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension to prevent complications. Early diagnosis is particularly important in cervical cancer and breast cancer which can make the difference between life and death (as late diagnosis can kill the patient in short time, while early diagnosis can cure the patient).

4. Disability Limitation and Prevention:

When a chronic disease is diagnosed late the best is to try to limit the disability by preventing complications. The main aim of disability limitation is prevention of transition of disease from impairment to handicap. “Impairment” is any loss or abnormality of physiological, anatomical or psychological function. Impairment becomes “disability” if that person can not perform normal activity which is considered normal for his/her age and sex. Due to disability the individual is at disadvantage in society and life as he/she can not fulfill the obligations of life and society is called “handicapped”.

5. Rehabilitation:

It is the combined and coordinated efforts of medical (including psychological support), educational, social, and vocational measures to train and if required retrain the handicapped person, to the highest possible level of functional ability. The aim of rehabilitation to provide the handicapped person to integrate fully to the society and take an active roll in society. Rehabilitation includes medical rehabilitation (to restore function to the fullest extent possible), vocational rehabilitation (so to earn living with dignity), social rehabilitation (establish the role in the family) and psychological rehabilitation (for restoring dignity and self esteem).

Some examples of rehabilitation are establishment of schools for the blinds, graded exercise training in polio victims, provision of walking aid or wheelchair to the handicapped, change to a suitable profession etc.

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1 Comment

  • Dravid March 22, 2012 05.28 am

    Yes, I agree, early diagnosis and treatment should be done before it’s too late In India, Lilavati Hospital is a precise diagnostic center.

    Diagnostics is vital for good medical care. A person’s illness and particular symptoms should be recognized in time. In Mumbai, most big hospitals have a good diagnostics department. However, some hospitals stand out in this regard over all others. The Lilavati Hospital and Research Center has one of the most well equipped modern medical laboratories for diagnostic activities. As a diagnostic center in Mumbai, Lilavati’s lab is unparallel. They have the best technicians, pathologists, and a great archive of knowledge to research upon. There is no other diagnostic center in Mumbai that is as precise as Lilavati. When the diseases can be caught on time, and the cause of the illness identified well; treatment is safer and the chances of recovery are far more. This facility is one reason why people can rely upon Lilvati’s life saving services with faith.


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