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The practice of modern medicine

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CONTENS:

1. Health care and its delivery

2. ORGANIZATION OF HEALTH SERVICES

3. Levels of health care.

4. Costs of health care.

5. ADMINISTRATION OF PRIMARY HEALTH CARE

6. MEDICAL PRACTICE IN. DEVELOPED COUNTRIES

7. Britain.

8. United Stales.

9. Russia.

10. Japan.

11. Other developed countries.

12. MEDICAL PRACTICE IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES

13. China

14. India.

15. ALTERNATIVE OR COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE

16. SPECIAL PRACTICES AND FIELDS OF MEDICINE

17. Specialties in medicine.

18. Teaching.

19. Industrial medicine.

20. Family health care.

21. Geriatrics.

22. Public health practice.

23. Military practice.

24. CLINICAL RESEARCH

25. Historical notes.

26. Clinical observation.

27. Drug research.

28. Surgery.

29. SCREENING PROCEDURES

THE PRACTICE OF MODERN MEDICINE

Health care and its delivery

The World Health Organization at its 1978 international, conference held in the Soviet Union produced the Alma-Ata Health Declaration, which was designed to serve governments as a basis for planning health care that would reach people at all levels of society. The declaration reaffirmed that "health, which is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, is a fundamental human rit.nl and that the attainment of the highest possible level of health is a most important world-wide social goal whose realization requires the action of many other social and economic sectors in addition to the health sector." In its widest form the practice of medicine, that is to say the promotion and care of health, is concerned with this ideal.

ORGANIZATION OF HEALTH SERVICES

"It is generally the goal of most countries to have their health services organized in such a way to ensure that individuals, families, and communities obtain the maximum benefit from current knowledge and technology available for the promotion, maintenance, and restoration of health. In order to play their part in this process, governments and other agencies are faced with numerous tasks, including the following: (1) They must obtain as much information as is possible on the size, extent, and urgency of their needs; without accurate information, planning can be misdirected. (2) These needs must then be revised against the resources likely to be available in terms of money, manpower, and materials; developing countries may well require external aid to supplement their own resources. (3) Based on their assessments, countries then need to determine realistic objectives and draw up plans. (4) Finally, a process of evaluation needs to be built into the program; the lack of reliable information and accurate assessment can lead to confusion, waste, and inefficiency.

Health services of any nature reflect a number "I interrelated characteristics, among which the most obvious but not necessarily the most important from a national point of view, is the curative function; that is to say caring for those already ill. Others include special services that deal with particular groups (such as children or pregnant women) and with specific needs such as nutrition or immunization; preventive services, the protection of the health both of individuals and of communities; health education; and, as mentioned above, the collection and analysis of information.

Levels of health care.

In the curative domain there are various forms f medical practice. They may be thought of generally as forming a pyramidal structure, with three tiers representing increasing degrees of specialization and technical sophistication but catering to diminishing numbers of patients as they are filtered out of the system at a lower level. Only those patients who require special attention or treatment should reach the second (advisory) or third (specialized treatment) tiers where the cost per item of service becomes increasingly higher. The first level represents primary health care, or first contact care, or which patients have their initial contact with the health-care system.

Primary health care is an integral part of a country's health maintenance system, of which it forms the largest and most important part. As described in the declaration of Alma-Ata, primary health care should be "based on practical scientifically sound and socially acceptable methods and technology made universally accessible to individuals in the community through their full participation and at a cost that the community and country can afford to maintain at every stage of then development." Primary health care in the developed countries is usually the province of a medically qualified physician; in the developing countries first contact care is often provided by nonmedically qualified personnel.

The vast majority of patients can be fully dealt with at the primary level. Those who cannot are referred to the second tier (secondary health care, or the referral services) for the opinion of a consultant with specialized knowledge or for X-ray examinations and special tests. Secondary health care often requires the technology offered by a local or regional hospital. Increasingly, however, the radiological and laboratory services provided by hospitals are available directly to the family doctor, thus improving his service to palings and increasing its range. The third tier of health care employing specialist services, is offered by institutions such as leaching hospitals and units devoted to the care of particular groupswomen, children, patients with mental disorders, and so on. The dramatic differences in the cost of treatment at the various levels is a matter of particular importance in developing countries, where the cost of treatment for patients at the primary health-care level is usually only a small fraction of that at the third level- medical costs at any level in such countries, however, are usually borne by the government.

Ideally, provision of health care at all levels will be available to all patients; such health care may be said to be universal. The well-off, both in relatively wealthy industrialized countries and in the poorer developing world, may be able to get medical attention from sources they prefer and can pay for in the private sector. The vast majority of people in most countries, however, are dependent in various ways upon health services provided by the state, to which they may contribute comparatively little or, in the case of poor countries, nothing at all.

Costs of health care. The costs to national economics of providing health care are considerable and have been growing at a rapidly increasing rate, especially in countries such as the United States, Germany, and Sweden; the rise in Britain has been less rapid. This trend has been the cause of major concerns in both developed and developing countries. Some of this concern is based upon the lack of any consistent evidence to show that more spending on health care produces better health. There is a movement in developing countries to replace the type of organization of health-care services that evolved during European colonial times with some less expensive, and for them, more appropriate, health-care system.

In the industrialized world the growing cost of health services has caused both private and public health-care delivery systems to question current policies and to seek more economical methods of achieving their goals. Despite expenditures, health services are not always used effectively by those who need them, and results can vary widely from community to community. In Britain, for example, between 1951 and 1971 the death rate fell by 24 percent in the wealthier sections of the population but by only half that in the most underprivileged sections of society. The achievement of good health is reliant upon more than just the quality of health care. Health entails such factors as good education, safe working conditions, a favourable environment, amenities in the home, well-integrated social services, and reasonable standards of living.

In the developing countries. The developing countries differ from one another culturally, socially, and economically, but what they have in common is a low average income per person, with large percentages of their populations living at or below the poverty level. Although most have a small elite class, living mainly in the cities, the largest part of their populations live in rural areas. Urban regions in developing and some developed countries in the mid- and late 20th century have developed pockets of slums, which are growing because of an influx of rural peoples. For lack of even the simplest measures, vast numbers of urban and rural poor die each year of preventable and curable diseases, often associated with poor hygiene and sanitation, impure water supplies, malnutrition, vitamin deficiencies, and chronic preventable infections. The effect of these and other deprivations is reflected by the finding that in the 1980s the life expectancy at birth for men and women was about one-third less in Africa than it was in Europe; similarly, infant mortality in Africa was about eight times greater than in Europe. The extension of primary health-care services is therefore a high priority in the developing countries.

The developing countries themselves, lacking the proper resources, have often been unable to generate or implement

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