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It is difficult to define ‘health policy’ precisely, not least because of continuing debate over the definition of ‘health’ itself. The WHO’s 1948 definition of health as ‘a state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’ would lead to a number of policy areas being brought under the umbrella of health policy (including, e.g. policies on housing, employment, and poverty reduction). Furthermore, ‘health’ services have been used in some circumstances to harm individuals, as with enforced sterilization programmes (which in some nations, such as Peru, have continued until relatively recent times: BBC, 2002a), as well as sometimes functioning effectively as an arm of criminal justice policy (as in England following the Mental Health Act 2007, where those with untreatable mental disorders can be detained when viewed as posing a potential risk to the community (Cairney, 2009)).
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