Redefining Health in the 21st Century

What we can’t define, we can’t find; for our definition determines our destination. One of humanity’s greatest debacle is the allegiance to history as a standard for the present and the future. Humanity is so much indebted to old thoughts to the point where, thinking something new seems like a disloyalty to the legends of old. History should not be a status quo or an imperative standard for the present and the future, but an inspiration for the correction of the present and the redirection of the future for a better destiny for mankind. With respect to achieving health for all in the 21st century, humanity must outgrow old thoughts and ways, to the expounding of new methods, approaches, ideologies, and strategies in securing health for mankind. “The significant problems we are facing cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we where at when we created them.

In the past, health was defined as having both body and mind working in good order, free from diseases and pains. If this assertion has been unable to provide humanity with insight on securing health for humanity, then it is expedient for humanity to think out of the status quo. There is no way humanity can resolve the health challenges of the 21st century except in the courage of exploring the unknown. With respect to the 21st century health plan, health is defined as an integrated state of being, of the human body, soul, and spirit functioning in absolute soundness. Thus, health is not necessarily the absence of pains or physical symptoms of sicknesses and diseases. There are individuals with no symptoms of pains, sickness and diseases, yet they are close to their grave. There are equally people who died without having any physical symptoms of pains or disease. Though they seemed to be fine, yet they died suddenly because they were not healthy.

Health is much more than the absence of pains or disease, but an integrated state of being with the human body, soul, and spirit functioning in absolute soundness. Health is an integrated effect with a cause; which implies, health is not a coincidence or an accidental occurrence but the resultant effect of the relative functioning of the human body, soul and spirit in absolute soundness. Let me make this clear, health is not a challenge we can resolve by our shallow efforts. That is why despite all human efforts in achieving health, health has remained a severe challenge. To achieve health for all in the 21st century, humanity must stop joking. We must realize that, we are dealing with a challenge which if not resolved, billions of humans may be wiped out before the end of this century. For health to be achieved in the 21st century, humanity must adopt a more comprehensive and integrated approach taking into consideration the total human being; body, soul and spirit. I hope by now we are civilized enough to know that the human being is not an animal but a complex being with three related dimensions (body, soul and spirit).Any health plan which focuses only on one dimension of the human being will end in failure. A human being must improve in his body, soul and spirit to enjoy health.

Insight on the Human Being:

The human being is the most complex specie in all of existence. Until now, little has been discovered about the human being. What is in existence as information concerning the human being is but “skeleton”. The human being is a world yet unexploited. The ignorance about the totality and the truism of the human being is the greatest challenge to human evolution and progress. The full understanding of the truism of the human being will be the end of human misery and frustration. The human being is essentially a supernatural being, possessing a soul and living inside a body. This assertion is a universal truth agreed upon by all Universalists and equally confirmed in the universal lab manual or the divine constitution. The spirit of man is the ‘real estate’ of man, with the soul as the intermediary between the spirit of man and the body. The human spirit possesses the science of life, which defines humans as having the supremacy over all external factors.

When this consciousness is transferred to the human soul and body, human immunity and resistance against sicknesses and diseases is enhanced. The fact that the human body is the only visible dimension of the human being does not define the body as the sole constituent of man. Limiting the human being to just his physical body can be the most tragic error. Humans are not animals. The most tragic academic mistake is that of classifying humans and animals under the same group. This academic mistake is due to the limited perspective about the human being. This perspective considers the human body as the sole constituent of man. This academic mistake has produced a low mentality and consciousness among humans. Today, humans live and behave as animals because of this error. Humans even suffer the same fate as animals. The day has finally come to eradicate this human ignorance.

Occupational Health: Core Areas of Knowledge and Competence, Part 2

OHA’s can contribute by helping managers to manage sickness absence more effectively. The nurse may be involved in helping to train line managers and supervisors in how to best use the OH service, in how to refer staff, what type of information will be required, what to expect from occupational health. By developing transparent referral procedures, ensuring that medical confidentiality is maintained and that the workers’ rights are respected the OHA can do much to ensure that employees referred for assessment due to sickness absence are comfortable with the process.

OH nurses, with their close relationship with workers, knowledge of the working environment and trends in ill-health in the company are often in a good position to advise management on preventing sickness absence. In my experience referral to General Practitioners have a limited use for work related issues, and gain best results by as well as keeping the GP aware, referring to a specialist occupational physician.

Planned rehabilitation strategies, can help to ensure safe return to work for employees who have been absent from work due to ill-health or injury. The nurse is often the key person in the rehabilitation programme who will, with the manager and individual employee, complete a risk assessment, devise the rehabilitation programme, monitor progress and communicate with the individual, the OH physician and the line manager. Nurses have also become involved in introducing proactive rehabilitation strategies that aim to detect early changes in health before such conditions result in absence from work. Improving and sustaining working ability benefits many groups, the individual, the organization and society, as costly absence and other health care costs are avoided.

In many cases the OH nurse has to work within the organization as the clients advocate in order ensuring that managers appreciate fully the value of improving the health of the workforce. OH nurses have the skills necessary to undertake this work and may develop areas of special interest.

The occupational health nurse may develop pro-active strategies to help the workforce maintain or restore their work ability. New workers, older workers, women returning to work following pregnancy or workers who have been unemployed for a prolonged period of time may all benefit from health advice or a planned programme of work hardening exercises to help maintain or restore their work ability even before any health problems arise. Increasingly the problems faced by industry are of a psychosocial nature and these can be even more complex and costly to deal with. OH nurses, working at the company level, are in a good position to give advice to management on strategies that can be adopted to improve the psycho-social health and wellbeing of workers.

Health and safety

The OHA can have a role to play in developing health and safety strategies. Where large, or high risk, organizations have their own in-house health and safety specialists the OHA can work closely with these specialists to ensure that the nurses expertise in health, risk assessment, health surveillance and environmental health management is fully utilized into the health and safety strategy. Occupational health nurses are trained in health and safety legislation, risk management and the control of workplace health hazards and can therefore make a useful contribution to the overall management of health and safety at work, with particular emphasis on ‘health’ risk assessment.

Hazard identification

The nurse often has close contact with the workers and is aware of changes to the working environment. Because of the nurses expertise in the effects of work on health they are in a good position to be involved in hazard identification. Hazards may arise due to new processes or working practices or may arise out of informal changes to existing processes and working practices that the nurse can readily identify and assess the likely risk from. This activity requires and pre-supposed regular and frequent work place visits by the occupational health nurse to maintain an up to date knowledge and awareness of working processes and practices.

Risk assessment

Legislation in Europe is increasingly being driven by a risk management approach. OHA’s are trained in risk assessment and risk management strategies and, depending upon their level of expertise and the level of complexity involved in the risk assessment, the nurse can undertake risk assessments or contribute towards the risk assessment working closely with other specialists.

Advice on control strategies

Having been involved in the hazard identification and risk assessment the occupational health nurse can, within the limits of their education and training, provide advice and information on appropriate control strategies, including health surveillance, risk communication, monitoring and on the evaluation of control strategies.

Research and the use of evidence based practice