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Globally millions of people have embraced wellness to improve their health and wellbeing. The need for wellness has expanded due to declining health trends, particularly the rising obesity and chronic disease rates.  While wellness and disease prevention are the only viable solutions, wellness services are by and large out of reach of socially disadvantaged groups.

The World Health Organisation defines wellness as the optimal state of health of individuals and groups.  There are two focal concerns: the realisation of the fullest potential of an individual’s physical, psychological, social, spiritual and economical dimensions, and the fulfilment of one’s role expectations in the family, community, place of worship, workplace and other settings (Smith, Tang, & Nutbeam, 2006).

Wellness is a modern concept with ancient roots. Tenets of wellness (the idea that physical, mental and spiritual health work in harmony) have their origins in ancient healing and medical traditions that date back thousands of years.  Ancient cultures of Africa, India, China, Greece, Rome and Pacific Islands Nations (among others) had sophisticated ways of understanding health and staying healthy emphasising the whole person. The concept of wellness appears to have come full circle.  As a modern concept it is driven by three major trends resulting in a paradigm shift from reactivity (treating or fixing the problem) towards a more proactive and holistic  way of taking care of ourselves: ageing population, dissatisfaction with current health and medical systems and, globalisation and connections (SRI International, 2010).

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