Health is a resource for everyday life. It is a positive concept emphasising social and personal resources, as well as physical capacities.

The fundamental conditions and resources for health are:

  • peace
  • shelter
  • education
  • food
  • income
  • a stable eco-system
  • sustainable resources, and
  • social justice and equity

For more information take a look at the World Health Organization’s Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion 1986.

Other important determinants of health include:

  • healthy, safe work environments
  • clean air and water and good sanitation
  • integrated and affordable transport systems
  • supportive communities
  • health behaviours such as tobacco and alcohol use, lack of physical activity and unhealthy diet

In 2008, the World Health Organization (WHO) Commission on the Social Determinants of Health reiterated the importance of these underlying determinants on health, noting that 'the conditions in which people live and die are, in turn, shaped by political, social and economic forces'. See the Commission's report Closing the gap in a generation.

Health is both the responsibility of an individual to avoid risks to their wellbeing, and that of communities and governments to ensure people live and work in environments that are supportive to their health. To reach a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, an individual or a group of people must be able to identify and realise aspirations, satisfy needs, and change or cope with the environment they live in.