Health care (or healthcare) is the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease, illness, injury, and other physical and mental impairments in humans. Health care is delivered by practitioners in medicine, chiropractic, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, allied health, and other care providers. It refers to the work done in providing primary care, secondary care and tertiary care, as well as in public health.
Access to health care varies across countries, groups and individuals, largely influenced by social and economic conditions as well as the health policies in place. Countries and jurisdictions have different policies and plans in relation to the personal and population-based health care goals within their societies. Health care systems are organizations established to meet the health needs of target populations. Their exact configuration varies from country to country. In some countries and jurisdictions, health care planning is distributed among market participants, whereas in others planning is made more centrally among governments or other coordinating bodies. In all cases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), a well-functioning health care system requires a robust financing mechanism; a well-trained and adequately-paid workforce; reliable information on which to base decisions and policies; and well maintained facilities and logistics to deliver quality medicines and technologies.
Health care can form a significant part of a country's economy. In 2008, the health care industry consumed an average of 9.0 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) across the most developed OECD countries. The United States (16.0%), France (11.2%), and Switzerland (10.7%) were the top three spenders.
Health care is conventionally regarded as an important determinant in promoting the general health and well-being of people around the world. An example of this is the worldwide eradication of smallpox in 1980—declared by the WHO as the first disease in human history to be completely eliminated by deliberate health care interventions.
Famous quotes containing the words health care, health and/or care:
“Some fear that if parents start listening to their own wants and needs they will neglect their children. It is our belief that children are in fact far less likely to be neglected when their parents needsfor support, for friendship, for decent work, for health care, for learning, for play, for time aloneare being met.”
—Wendy Coppedge Sanford. Ourselves and Our Children, by Boston Womens Health Book Collective, introduction (1978)
“In health of mind and body, men should see with their own eyes, hear and speak without trumpets, walk on their feet, not on wheels, and work and war with their arms, not with engine-beams, nor rifles warranted to kill twenty men at a shot before you can see them.”
—John Ruskin (18191900)
“I recommend to you to take care of the minutes; for hours will take care of themselves.”
—Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl Chesterfield (16941773)