Medical Peace Work Glossary

Terms are from the Medical Peace Work | Course 1 Health Workers, conflict and peace.

Browse the glossary using this index

Special | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z | ALL

Page: (Previous)   1  2  3  4  (Next)



The World Health Organisation defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. 

Health System

The World Health Organisation defines a health system as “all the activities whose primary purpose is to promote, restore or maintain health”. The functions of a health system has been defined in a more detailed way by Maureen Mackintosh and Meri Koivusalo. At the core are health services, but these are complemented by public health functions (surveillance, prevention, cross-sectoral action and emergency preparedness); systems for training the people needed to staff the system (medical and nursing schools etc); and policy, ethical and regulatory decision-making bodies which direct the health systems and the people in them. 

Humanitarian aid

Aid which is concerned with or seeking to promote human welfare. 



In the context of humanitarian aid, this refers to assistance that is ‘guided solely’ by the needs of individuals. 


In the context of humanitarian aid this has been defined by Joanna Macrae as the ‘endeavour not to act as instruments of government foreign policy’. 


Inequalities represent disparities in income, health, education, ownership of land, access to power and so on. Some inequalities are unavoidable: not all of us have the genetic make-up that will help us run the 100 metres as fast as Olympic sprinters. But many inequalities, such as those listed above, can be avoided. These avoidable inequalities are sometimes called inequities. 


Inequities are inequalities that can be avoided through directed human action, most notably the application of government policy. 



Landmines are conventional weapons used in wars to stop military opponents from encroaching into territory. There are between 600 and 700 different types of landmines that are produced in 60 countries. Examples include blast mines and fragmentation mines.

In terms of their effects two types of landmines can be distinguished. Anti-personnel mines are directed against persons and are activated by contact, proximity or presence of a victim. Anti-vehicle-mines, on the other hand, are directed against any kind of vehicle. 



Morbidity means illness or disease. Measures of morbidity such as the prevalence of chronic diseases can be used, among other measures, to help understand the health of a population. 


Mortality means death. Measures of rates of mortality such as life expectancy and infant mortality can be used, among other measures, to help understand the health of a population. 

Page: (Previous)   1  2  3  4  (Next)