According to World Health Organization, health can be considered as a state of complete physical, mental and social well being of a person and not the mere absence of disease or infirmity. This means that the definition of health takes a holistic approach in that it does not assess health in terms of diseases or infirmity alone. This arises from the fact that there are many factors that determine the health status of a person. The well being of an individual is contributed by many integrating factors. The medical definition of health may be more leaned to presence or absence of a disease condition but the social definition of health includes many other factors which affect the functioning of a person. A person may be free of any illness or deformity but the social factors that surround that person may play a great role in determining the well being of that person.
Health of a person can be contributed by factors that affect the physical, mental and social well being of a person. What does this imply? This implies that the state of physical fitness, mental fitness and social life of a person is very crucial in determining the well being of an individual. Let's take an example of a person where one of his/her closest friend has died. The bereaved will be left mourning for days. The bereaved is left with a great burden of a stressful life which adversely affects his/her wellbeing. This may at the end bring death as an aspect of serious illness due to the accompanying effect of that death. This means that although the person may be physically and mentally fit, the social effect of losing a loved one may be a great factor contributing to the health status of the person. (Department of Health, 2002)
There are two important reports that depicted the inequalities in health care, The Black report of 1980 and the Heath Divide Report of 1987. Both of these reports identified the failure by the HNS to address the issue of inequalities in health opportunities in the country. Both reports came out with clear indications of inequalities in British class system. The outcomes of the reports were further evidenced by the department of Health and Social Security which in 1993 also pointed out existence of differences in social class and geographical locations as reflected in mortality and morbidity rates. This report indicated the life expectancy at birth in 1994 was 78 years for women and 72 years for men. It also pointed out the increased likelihood of men dying from heat disease and women form cancer. Our analysis of the health inequality will be based on these two reports.
Concepts involved in the social construction of health and illness.
Social construction can be considered in terms of patterns of health as expressed in aspects of social class. Social construct tries to define social aspect of health that leads to heath status of individuals. It looks closely to health in terms of various factors like the health of family members, health of communities and heath of nations. Social construction is seen as a broader outlook in the health of a population in above perspectives.