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Glossary of Medical Terms
In accordance with the Constitution of the World Health Organization (1948), health is "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity". Health is defined here as a positive concept, emphasizing social and personal resources as well as physical capabilities.
Services provided to individuals or communities by a health care system or by professionals to promote, maintain, monitor, or restore health. Health care contains a broad spectrum of services and activities delivered by a team of health personnel. This contrasts with medical care, which concentrates on diagnostic and therapeutic actions performed by or under the supervision of an individual physician.
A discipline which concentrates on application of the principles and rules of economics in the sphere of health. In broad terms, it includes analysis and evaluation of health policy and the health system from an economic perspective. In particular, it includes health system planning, market mechanisms, demand for and supply of health care, micro-economic evaluation of individual diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, determinants of health and its valuation, and evaluation of the performance of health care systems in terms of equity and allocative efficiency.
Health Maintenance Organization (HMO)
An organization that arranges a wide spectrum of health care services which commonly include hospital care, physicians' services and many other kinds of health care services with an emphasis on preventive care.
Systematic use of the full range of human, technical and financial resources of the health system through planning, organizing, leading and controlling the effort of members to achieve stated goals and to render optimum services at minimum cost. Health managers achieve desired goals by directing and influencing subordinates, and organizing others to perform essential tasks to ensure that the organization is moving towards its goal of improving health.
Health Maintenance Services
Any health care service or program that helps maintain an individual's good health. This includes all preventive medical practices such as immunizations and periodic examinations, as well as health education and special self-help programs.
A term that has different meanings depending upon the context. "Health plan" can be used to mean an HMO; a "health benefits plan" is provided by an employer to its employees, or services offered by an insurer or third party administrator to employers and/or employees.
A set of decisions or commitments to pursue courses of action aimed at achieving defined goals of improving health. Policies usually state or imply the values that underpin the policy position. They may also specify the source of funding that can be applied to planning and implementation of policy and to relevant institutions to be involved in this process.
The process of enabling individuals to increase control over and improve their health. It involves the population as a whole in the context of their everyday lives, rather than focusing on people at risk for specific diseases, and is directed toward action on the determinants or causes of health.
Health Risks Appraisal
A method of describing an individual's probability of becoming ill or dying from selected causes. Starting from the average risk of death for that individual's age and sex, various lifestyle and physical factors are considered and it is determined whether the individual is at greater or lesser than average risk from the commonest causes of death for their age and sex. Health risk appraisal also indicates the reduction in risk which could be achieved by the individual's altering any of the causal factors (such as cessation of cigarette smoking).
Services performed by health care professionals or by others under their direction for the purpose of promoting, maintaining, or restoring health. In addition to personal health care, health services include health protection, health promotion, and disease prevention.
A general term for the state of health of an individual, group or population that reflects the degree to which a person is able to function physically, emotionally, and socially, with or without aid from the health care system.
A complex of interrelated elements that contribute to health in homes, educational institutions, workplaces, public places, and communities. A health system is usually organized at multiple levels, starting at the most local level, also known as community or primary health care level, and proceeding through the intermediate (district, regional or provincial) to the central level, providing progressively more complex and more specialized care and support.
The combination of knowledge, practices and attitudes that together contribute to motivate actions we take regarding our own health. Healthy behavior may promote and preserve good health. On the other hand, behaviors harmful to health such as tobacco smoking, alcohol drinking, drug abuse and lack of physical exercise may be determinants of disease.
Hippocratic Oath, The
An affirmation usually taken by physicians about to enter the practice of medicine. It is attributed to Greek physician, Hippocrates of Cos, who is called the "Father of Medicine" (circa 460- 377 B.C). Its content reflects the ethical code of the physicians' attitudes and behavior and obligations towards patients, colleagues and society. The complete text can be found here .