(Source: WHO World Health Report 2008. This is Monica Korir an outreach worker visiting a home in Kenya)
For many, the allure of curative medicine seems like the answer to public health. However, while curative medicine has an important role in health, true advances in the health of the public will come most significantly through preventive community-based primary care.
The newly published World Health Report 2008 focuses on primary care and is an important document with a wealth of information. Describing some of the key current pitfalls in health trends, the report notes three areas of concern:
1) Approaches to health that are focused on specialized curative care
2) Approaches to health that focus on short-term disease control
3) Approaches to health that encourage unregulated commercialization of health
As the report states, "these trends fly in the face of a comprehensive and balanced response to health needs."
What is needed? According to the report, approaches to health that 1) contribute to equity and social justice, 2) reorganize services around people's needs and expectations, 3) contribute to healthy communities through integration with various services, and 4) replace short-term control with inclusive, participatory, negotiation-based leadership.
The report is well worth the read, and is full of a lot of practical evidence and guidance.