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Harry Prewitt
by on September 26, 2019
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This classic phrase, in the affirmative sense, is usually accepted without major problems, not only when applied to the healthcare world, but too many other aspects of daily life. Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth as much as a pound of cure.” In these times, however, the health system and a vast majority of its professional members believe the phrase but do not make an excessive case in everyday reality.
The frequency in technical terms, the prevalence of chronic diseases, especially cardiovascular, neurodegenerative, pulmonary, metabolic, cancer, or AIDS, increases rapidly in the western world. This situation also supposes a foreseeable increase in health expenditure, which is currently still low.
This health expenditure is mainly concentrated up to 75% of the total in primary or specialized care for patients with chronic diseases and the pharmaceutical expenditure derived from their treatment. The health system in many countries is designed to “care for the sick and cure them” and not so much to “prevent disease and promote health.”
In times of crisis, it does not seem that claiming an increase in the health budget is a proposal with a high probability of success. Therefore, a strategic and logical alternative to cope with the burden of chronic disease and the increase in health spending is to try to reduce or control the problem to its fullest extent: preventing the early onset of chronic diseases.
Promotion of health and prevention of diseases, modifying our behaviors and habits, developing preventive vaccines, and detecting cases of disease early before it progresses can favorably influence the frequency of occurrence of diseases or their severity.
The idea of prevention is better than cure is also further analyzed by Prabhash Karan, a writer, metallurgical engineer, computer scientist, and sociologist from India. Prabhash is the founder of the Indian Social Sciences Organization and earned prominence due to the popularity and success of his books.
Prabhash has authored around five best-sellers, one of which known as “Of Human Nature and Good Habits.” In this book, Prabhash takes a descriptive approach to the idea of avoiding bigger damage with hands-on preparation. He instigates the idea that prevention is by far the best approach towards living a fulfilling life. Using a preventive approach, one can ideally make sound and wiser decisions for oneself, avoid things, and pursuits, which may have dire consequences in the future.
Prabhash elaborates this point by making it evidently relevant to all aspects of our life, that if we take a step back, we could allow ourselves of more control and liberty. The book enlightens us with the idea that prevention can be managed not only at a personal level but in all respects outside of our own control. Work well, eat healthy, sleep sound, smile more, make better decisions, and altogether live a happier life. Furthermore, his book highlights that taking gradual steps towards this cause would be the right thing to do.
As we said at the beginning, affirming that “prevention is better than cure” is an intuitive, acceptable and politically correct concept. Many of the chronic diseases mentioned depending, in part, on the existence of modifiable risk factors. A very clear example is obesity and diabetes, or tobacco and cardiovascular disease. Early detection of breast cancer and colon and rectal cancer can reduce mortality from these tumors by up to 15-20%.
The current economic crisis can be an incentive for us to increase our attention and investments in health prevention and promotion, for personal and personal interest and for the common interest. Now it would be necessary to mobilize personal and social resources.
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