The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) supports the attainment of the highest level of health for all people. Health includes the capacity to heal and to function within the context of the family, community, and environment. Numerous social, genetic, and environmental factors influence health to varying degrees. An individual's health is not measured simply by the absence of disease.
Family physicians promote health equity by considering the balance of social determinants that impact the health of an individual, family, community, population, and environment. Family physicians can mitigate health inequity by collaborating with government, business, and health and social service providers, to affect positive change for the populations they serve.
Health equity: The AAFP adopts the Healthy People 2020 definition of health equity as, "The attainment of the highest level of health for all people. Achieving health equity requires valuing everyone equally with focused and ongoing societal efforts to address avoidable inequalities, historical and contemporary injustices, and the elimination of health and health care disparities."
The WHO definition of health is modified by the AAFP to read as follows, "Health is a state of physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity."
The WHO definition, although used internationally, has also been adapted to meet the needs of individual nations.
The AAFP is dedicated to improving the health of patients, families, and communities, and is a bold champion of health. As we call upon our organization's leaders, our members, patients, and society to promote individual and population health, we must question outdated thinking and redefine health for those individuals and populations. Health is complex, yet achievable and personal. Its definition should be adaptable and comprehensive.
(2015 December BOD)