Meikirch model

Component 2: Biologically given potential

At the time of birth the biologically given potential is a gift of nature that is combined with the responsibility to take good care of it. Initially this responsibility lies with the parents. With time more and more of this responsibility goes over to the individual. Expressions of this responsibility are among others a balanced nutrition, hygiene, vaccinations, life-long learning, appropriate physical activity, a healthy lifestyle, and avoidance of smoking, alcohol and drugs.

With progressing age the potential decreases

During the course of the life the biologically given potential decreases. Diseases, physical handicaps and adverse environmental conditions may reduce it further. This does not imply that such a human being is diseased. Other components may compensate in part the decrease of the potential.

When other components of the model, i.e. the personally acquired potential, the social and environmental determinants, enable a person with a reduced biologically given potential to respond satisfactorily to the demands of life, health will ensue. Persons with paraplegia are impressive examples: Many who achieve independence and become employed tell that they are healthy.

Inspiration for this topic

Macklem P.T. and Seely A.

Towards a definition of life

Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 2010, Volume 53, number 3, 330–339     pdf