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Mark Twain famously said that he had been writing prose for 20 years before he knew that that was what he was doing. It is the same with health. Health is created and lost in everyday life by individuals, families, and organisations in the settings where people live, love, work, and play. The reluctance of many people from different sectors to admit that they are involved in health work puzzled me for many years. One day the penny dropped. The medicalisation of health has led to a linguistic impasse in which health care workers claim to be doing health while predominantly concerning themselves with treating disease, while those actually doing health are reluctant to admit that they are doing so for fear that they will be put under the direction of clinical workers. We need to reclaim the “H” word to make it legitimate for non-medical and nursing people to be seen to be in the lead on many health protecting and creating activities, while at the same time exploring the opportunities for health care workers to also contribute to the broad sweep of public health as well as their specific contributions to disease management.
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