Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters How should we define health?

Proposal for new definition of health

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 23 August 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d5359
  1. Trevor Shilton, vice president for advocacy1,
  2. Michael Sparks, president2,
  3. David McQueen, past president2,
  4. Marie-Claude Lamarre, executive director2,
  5. Suzanne Jackson, board member2
  6. On behalf of the executive committee of the International Union for Health Promotion and Education—IUHPE
  1. 1International Union for Health Promotion and Education, Duncraig, 6023, WA, Australia
  2. 2International Union for Health Promotion and Education (IUHPE), 93203 Saint-Denis, Cedex, France
  1. trevor.shilton{at}

Huber and colleagues rightly challenge the validity, in the 21st century, of the World Health Organization’s definition of health.1

Adaptation and self management are important qualities, but a contemporary definition should include health being a human right protected by certain entitlements and a resource for life that is affected by social, political, economic, and environmental factors.2 …

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