Medical Definition of Health for All

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Health for All: A global health movement undertaken by the World Health Organization (WHO) in the late 20th century.

In 1977, the World Health Assembly decided that the major social goal of governments and WHO should be the attainment by all people of the world by the year 2000 of a level of health that would permit them to lead a socially and economically productive life. In 1981, the Assembly unanimously adopted a Global Strategy for Health for All by the Year 2000. This was the birth of the "Health for All" movement.

According to WHO, "'Health for All' does not mean an end to disease and disability, or that doctors and nurses will care for everyone. It means that resources for health are evenly distributed and that essential health care is accessible to everyone. It means that health begins at home, in schools, and at the workplace, and that people use better approaches for preventing illness and alleviating unavoidable disease and disability. It means that people recognize that ill-health is not inevitable and that they can shape their own lives and the lives of their families, free from the avoidable burden of disease."

Some progress toward these goals has been made, but the goals have clearly not yet been attained on a global level. In many countries including the United States, for example, it cannot be said that the "resources for health are evenly distributed and that essential health care is accessible to everyone."

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Reviewed on 12/27/2018

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