A Global Health Care Debate

By Jeff Palmer, CEO on November 30, 2017 | Print

Treatment or prevention?

This debate is an important part of the global health discussion. As a leader of a relief and development organization, I constantly consider effective and efficient ways to utilize our available resources- financial, people, influence, etc.- for maximum impact. Thus when we look at health problems and solutions, we must ask, “Which is best: treatment or prevention?”

The simple answer is both.

Treatment and the use of resources to treat health issues is an amazing way to show compassion and care for those in need. It is also a natural road to deep, interpersonal relationships and conversations of an intimate nature. Medical and health care professionals can, by the very nature of their professions, open doors to just about anywhere in the world.

Prevention, on the other hand, is arguably the best “dollar for results” investment to help people struggling with health issues. Educational programs about healthy habits, how to treat a fever, nutrition, and immunization projects to keep children strong most likely save more lives than all the treatment programs.

However, just as in community development, the situation of the person suffering poor health plays an important role in the approach to health care. A person or community with an acute health need might merit immediate treatment. A preventative approach under acute circumstances would be inappropriate and could even be detrimental to the health of those in need.

Conversely, a person or community undergoing long-term, chronic health needs, might negatively benefit from a one-time hand out of pills when what they actually need is a more involved treatment.

There is a role for doctors, nurses, and other health professionals meeting needs. There is also a role for health educators, nutritionists, and generalists who can help communities focus on the root causes of their health issues. Finding the appropriate response to the actual need is a key in successful health care strategies.

If you would like more information about BGR’s Health Care Connections, click here!