approaches to healthcare
Over-reliance on drugs?
Different parts of the world have very different approaches to both
health and medicine. Within western medicine, there is a tendency
to focus solely on the particular illness, and to treat it with
a range of chemically synthesised drugs.
Whilst this can be very
affective, it can also result in an over-reliance on medication.
Recent reports in the media have highlighted the new generation
of prescription drugs that alter your personality – to make
you happier, more confident and more relaxed.
But these very drugs
can have harmful long-term side effects, many of which have yet
to be fully discovered.
Many parts of the world have a strong tradition of using natural
remedies to treat ill health. Medicines have been made from herbs
and plants for thousands of years and for example in Traditional
Chinese Medicine this is used in conjunction with other practices,
such as acupuncture.
In this case, the balance of the entire body
is taken into account when the patient is being treated rather
than dealing with a single malady, as it focuses upon 12 energy
or meridian lines that run through the body, each corresponding
to the 12 major organs.
Another form of medicine that is increasing in popularity is homeopathy.
In this case, diseases are treated using small doses of medicines
which would produce similar symptoms in a healthy person.
used are very small, and some people argue that there is no scientific
basis for the claims that homeopathy can cure illness and disease.
Critics argue that the positive results are largely coincidental,
in that people feel better because they believe that their treatment
is working. Furthermore, people can actually damage their health
by taking unnecessary remedies without first consulting a doctor.
Access is an issue
Whilst these forms of medical practice have their supporters and
critics, the fact that they are available is an advantage many
in the South do not always have.
The WHO oversees immunisation
programmes to help prevent deaths caused by diseases such as
polio and tuberculosis. Yet expensive medicine isn't the only thing
- millions of people die each year from simple-to-treat conditions,
such as dehydration caused by diarrhoea.
Access to clean water
could prevent many of these deaths. Hence primary health-care
needs to directly involve the local community in the broadest sense
ensure health for all.