“Preventive care carries a quasi-moralistic message that people and societies are responsible for their health and must shoulder certain disciplines in order to avoid disease” (Brody and Englehardt 299). The idea of preventive medicine makes an individual in charge of his/her own health by preventing disease or illness before it ever occurs. Preventive care encourages a sense of responsibility in people by letting them take direct control of their own health. It promotes the idea that, avoiding bad things from happening is better than fixing the bad things after it happens. If bad things still occur, it, indirectly, holds an individual and society accountable for letting it happen at the first place. However, as Brody & Englehardt say that since preventive care is not clearly medical, (prevention happens before medical intervention) it does not fall within the jurisdiction of influential scientific organizations. Moreover, scientific organizations emphasis more on statistics which makes it easy for them to report their findings and hence more resources are allocated to their programs.
According to Brody and Englehardt, many countries allocate money for fixing health problems as they occur rather than allocating it towards increasing resources so that these health problems can be avoided. These countries’ healthcare system focuses on reactive medicine in which the symptoms are treated as they occur rather than working to prevent them from getting happening in the first place. Both culture and medicine in these countries have formed a relationship which is acceptable for the majority of their population. It is difficult for these countries to ever come out of this cycle because it is much easier for them to report quantifiable findings for the cure of the sick. On the other hand, it could be not only difficult, but nearly impossible to quantify actions which may or may not prevent an illness. For this reason, even though, the benefits of preventive medicine are clear, they are not definitely measureable which makes it a less popular approach.
I believe that the global differences in medical practice, that Brody and Englehardt talk about, will continue to differ, until a joint consent is made to align them. Some of these countries are among the poorer nations where the governments constantly face a vicious cycle of disease and poverty. These places are in a need of the competencies and incentives so that their strategy can be shifted from reactive methodology to proactive mode of care. Furthermore, an approach a country takes towards preventive health care is greatly influenced by their culture where each believes in their own practice method as being the best. For example, in the U.S, risk reducing mastectomies are patients’ choice and can be carried out for carriers of the BRCA mutation gene to prevent the risk of developing breast cancer. However, France only favors mastectomy if the risk factor is greater than 60% and that only if a woman is at least thirty years old (Payer 183). This is largely due to their perception of preventive mastectomy as a tragedy and not a celebration of an improved life. It is therefore important to identify a bio cultural approach of healthcare, one that defines health in both biological and cultural methods, explaining how disease and societies are integrated. This way of understanding takes both societal, traditional views and perception of disease, and the way the diseases and illnesses are best cured using traditional and or biomedical healing. By understanding this bio cultural approach, we can appreciate the benefits each have to offer and possibly use these benefits to better our and other health systems around the world. With all said, what Brody and Englehardt refers to cannot be denied that, every individual and every society still needs to consider health in a moral sense and adopt self-control behaviors in order to avoid future health problems.
Brody, Baruch A. Bioethics: readings & cases. Englewoods Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1987. Print.
Payer, Lynn. Medicine & culture: varieties of treatment in the United States, England, West Germany, and France. New York: H. Holt, 1988. Print.