The realization that it is mainly through preventive measures that our health will be improved should also influence allocation of research funds. As a recent editorial in the British Medical Journal stated, “today’s main killer diseases are due to the way we live ... logically the main thrust of medical research should be directed at the prevention of these common, lethal and disabling conditions.30 Unfortunately, there is far more profit and prestige in treating people once they have become ill. The pharmaceutical industry, whose primary purpose is to make a profit and satisfy its shareholders, is unlikely to be interested in prevention unless it can be made to pay. It is naturally more interested in treating the symptoms of disease rather than preventing it in the first place. Without widespread sickness, the industry cannot thrive.
© Lynda Medwell
(1)One in seven hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from their treatment.
Cynics might also accuse surgeons of constantly seeking ever more glamorous, technologically sophisticated operations to advance their careers when resources could be better allocated. Should we be developing artificial hearts or devising transplants with animal hearts when such procedures can never make a significant impact on cardiovascular disease which, in any case, is largely preventable? And should researchers be developing brain grafts for neurological illness such as Parkinson’s disease when far more could be achieved by finding the underlying causes and initiating a program of preventive medicine?
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