Who needs health care?

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.330.7503.1331-a (Published 02 June 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:1331

Preventive medicine has potentially big role

  1. Benjamin Dean, senior house officer (djdeeno1979{at}yahoo.co.uk)
  1. Radley College, Abingdon, Oxfordshire OX14 2HU

    EDITOR—I am frustrated at Heath's and Godlee's view of preventive medicine.1 2 They both argue against excessive drug prescribing and treating risk factors, seeing these as aspects of preventive medicine. What is preventive medicine, and why does preventive medicine have to be practised by the medical profession?

    I agree with both of them on the futility of merely postponing death while undermining health. A recent paper in the BMJ showed how medical knowledge can be used to improve people's health, but only if the government is willing to make big changes in cooperation with big industry.3

    Medical knowledge should be used to be truly preventive. Government policy needs to be changed to make it easy for the nation to stay healthy. Schools need compulsory nutritional standards, increased hours of exercise on a daily basis, and improved overall levels of education. The government needs to work with the food industry to tax unhealthy foods, and smoking must be banned in public places. The environment, which includes water and air quality, must be preserved by policies. These are just a few examples of where medical knowledge can be used to make a real difference.

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    If only a tiny percentage of the drugs budget of pensioners went towards better school nutrition and school sports facilities, the money would be better spent. Preventive medicine has a great potential role even if it is not to be administered by doctors.

    PS: My daily run doesn't make me miserable.


    • Competing interests None declared.


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