What is Self-Care?

What is self-care?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines self-care as “the ability for individuals, families and communities to promote, maintain health, prevent disease and cope with illness with or without the support of a healthcare provider.” Self-care enables individuals to exercise greater autonomy, power, and control of their health, and improve their health and well-being, especially in contexts where stigma and other barriers to access may prevent them from seeking care. 

Self-care is an integral part of the health system, linking to primary care and healthcare services.

Self-Care in Health

Self-care is not new. For millennia people have been taking measures to prevent disease, promote health and cope with illness and disability with and without a health care provider. While self-care will never replace the need for access to quality healthcare, self-care interventions are among the most promising and exciting new approaches to improve health and well-being—both from a health systems perspective and for people who use these interventions. 

Self-care can encompass many different aspects of care. New diagnostics, devices, drugs, and digital health are transforming the way people interact with the health system and has spotlighted the untapped potential for people to take charge of their own health in ways never before possible.