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The following content uses material from the Wikipedia article which can be viewed, along with the content contribution references and acknowledgements, at: Health, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0. Please note that the GNU Free Documentation License may also exist on some text material. Images may not fall under either of the aforementioned licences and particular attention needs to be made when considering to use images or other media files. For full reuse and copyright policy details, please refer to: Wikipedia content reuse copyright information.

Health is a state of physical, mental and social well-being in which disease and infirmity are absent.

Contents


History

The meaning of health has evolved over time. In keeping with the biomedical perspective, early definitions of health focused on the theme of the body's ability to function; health was seen as a state of normal function that could be disrupted from time to time by disease. An example of such a definition of health is: "a state characterized by anatomic, physiologic, and psychological integrity; ability to perform personally valued family, work, and community roles; ability to deal with physical, biological, psychological, and social stress". Then in 1948, in a radical departure from previous definitions, the World Health Organization (WHO) proposed a definition that aimed higher: linking health to well-being, in terms of "physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity". Although this definition was welcomed by some as being innovative, it was also criticized as being vague, excessively broad and was not construed as measurable. For a long time, it was set aside as an impractical ideal and most discussions of health returned to the practicality of the biomedical model.

Just as there was a shift from viewing disease as a state to thinking of it as a process, the same shift happened in definitions of health. Again, the WHO played a leading role when it fostered the development of the health promotion movement in the 1980s. This brought in a new conception of health, not as a state, but in dynamic terms of resiliency, in other words, as "a resource for living". 1984 WHO revised the definition of health defined it as "the extent to which an individual or group is able to realize aspirations and satisfy needs and to change or cope with the environment. Health is a resource for everyday life, not the objective of living; it is a positive concept, emphasizing social and personal resources, as well as physical capacities". Thus, health referred to the ability to maintain homeostasis and recover from insults. Mental, intellectual, emotional and social health referred to a person's ability to handle stress, to acquire skills, to maintain relationships, all of which form resources for resiliency and independent living. This opens up many possibilities for health to be taught, strengthened and learned.

Since the late 1970s, the federal Healthy People Initiative has been a visible component of the United States? approach to improving population health. In each decade, a new version of Healthy People is issued, featuring updated goals and identifying topic areas and quantifiable objectives for health improvement during the succeeding ten years, with assessment at that point of progress or lack thereof. Progress has been limited to many objectives, leading to concerns about the effectiveness of Healthy People in shaping outcomes in the context of a decentralized and uncoordinated US health system. Healthy People 2020 gives more prominence to health promotion and preventive approaches and adds a substantive focus on the importance of addressing social determinants of health. A new expanded digital interface facilitates use and dissemination rather than bulky printed books as produced in the past. The impact of these changes to Healthy People will be determined in the coming years.

Systematic activities to prevent or cure health problems and promote good health in humans are undertaken by health care providers. Applications with regard to animal health are covered by the veterinary sciences. The term "healthy" is also widely used in the context of many types of non-living organizations and their impacts for the benefit of humans, such as in the sense of healthy communities, healthy cities or healthy environments. In addition to health care interventions and a person's surroundings, a number of other factors are known to influence the health status of individuals, including their background, lifestyle, and economic, social conditions and spirituality; these are referred to as "determinants of health." Studies have shown that high levels of stress can affect human health.

In the first decade of the 21st century, the conceptualization of health as an ability opened the door for self-assessments to become the main indicators to judge the performance of efforts aimed at improving human health. It also created the opportunity for every person to feel healthy, even in the presence of multiple chronic diseases, or a terminal condition, and for the re-examination of determinants of health, away from the traditional approach that focuses on the reduction of the prevalence of diseases.

Determinants

Generally, the context in which an individual lives is of great importance for both his health status and quality of their life It is increasingly recognized that health is maintained and improved not only through the advancement and application of health science, but also through the efforts and intelligent lifestyle choices of the individual and society. According to the World Health Organization, the main determinants of health include the social and economic environment, the physical environment and the person's individual characteristics and behaviors.

More specifically, key factors that have been found to influence whether people are healthy or unhealthy include the following:

Donald Henderson as part of the CDC's smallpox eradication team in 1966.

An increasing number of studies and reports from different organizations and contexts examine the linkages between health and different factors, including lifestyles, environments, health care organization and health policy, one specific health policy brought into many countries in recent years was the introduction of the sugar tax. Beverage taxes came into light with increasing concerns about obesity, particularly among youth. Sugar-sweetened beverages have become a target of anti-obesity initiatives with increasing evidence of their link to obesity.? such as the 1974 Lalonde report from Canada; the Alameda County Study in California; and the series of World Health Reports of the World Health Organization, which focuses on global health issues including access to health care and improving public health outcomes, especially in developing countries.

The concept of the "health field," as distinct from medical care, emerged from the Lalonde report from Canada. The report identified three interdependent fields as key determinants of an individual's health. These are:

  • Lifestyle: the aggregation of personal decisions (i.e., over which the individual has control) that can be said to contribute to, or cause, illness or death;
  • Environmental: all matters related to health external to the human body and over which the individual has little or no control;
  • Biomedical: all aspects of health, physical and mental, developed within the human body as influenced by genetic make-up.

The maintenance and promotion of health is achieved through different combination of physical, mental, and social well-being, together sometimes referred to as the "health triangle." The WHO's 1986 Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion further stated that health is not just a state, but also "a resource for everyday life, not the objective of living. Health is a positive concept emphasizing social and personal resources, as well as physical capacities."

Focusing more on lifestyle issues and their relationships with functional health, data from the Alameda County Study suggested that people can improve their health via exercise, enough sleep, spending time in nature, maintaining a healthy body weight, limiting alcohol use, and avoiding smoking. Health and illness can co-exist, as even people with multiple chronic diseases or terminal illnesses can consider themselves healthy.

The environment is often cited as an important factor influencing the health status of individuals. This includes characteristics of the natural environment, the built environment and the social environment. Factors such as clean water and air, adequate housing, and safe communities and roads all have been found to contribute to good health, especially to the health of infants and children. Some studies have shown that a lack of neighborhood recreational spaces including natural environment leads to lower levels of personal satisfaction and higher levels of obesity, linked to lower overall health and well being. It has been demonstrated that increased time spent in natural environments is associated with improved self-reported health , suggesting that the positive health benefits of natural space in urban neighborhoods should be taken into account in public policy and land use.

Genetics, or inherited traits from parents, also play a role in determining the health status of individuals and populations. This can encompass both the predisposition to certain diseases and health conditions, as well as the habits and behaviors individuals develop through the lifestyle of their families. For example, genetics may play a role in the manner in which people cope with stress, either mental, emotional or physical. For example, obesity is a significant problem in the United States that contributes to bad mental health and causes stress in the lives of great numbers of people. (One difficulty is the issue raised by the debate over the relative strengths of genetics and other factors; interactions between genetics and environment may be of particular importance.)

Potential issues

A number of types of health issues are common around the globe. Disease is one of the most common. According to GlobalIssues.org, approximately 36 million people die each year from non-communicable (not contagious) disease including cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung disease (Shah, 2014).

Among communicable diseases, both viral and bacterial, AIDS/HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria are the most common, causing millions of deaths every year (Shah, 2014).

Another health issue that causes death or contributes to other health problems is malnutrition, especially among children. One of the groups malnutrition affects most is young children. Approximately 7.5 million children under the age of 5 die from malnutrition, usually brought on by not having the money to find or make food (Shah, 2014).

Bodily injuries are also a common health issue worldwide. These injuries, including broken bones, fractures, and burns can reduce a person's quality of life or can cause fatalities including infections that resulted from the injury or the severity injury in general (Moffett, 2013).

Lifestyle choices are contributing factors to poor health in many cases. These include smoking cigarettes, and can also include a poor diet, whether it is overeating or an overly constrictive diet. Inactivity can also contribute to health issues and also a lack of sleep, excessive alcohol consumption, and neglect of oral hygiene (Moffett2013).There are also genetic disorders that are inherited by the person and can vary in how much they affect the person and when they surface (Moffett, 2013).

Though the majority of these health issues are preventable, a major contributor to global ill health is the fact that approximately 1 billion people lack access to health care systems (Shah, 2014). Arguably, the most common and harmful health issue is that a great many people do not have access to quality remedies.

Mental health

The World Health Organization describes mental health as "a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community". Mental health is not just the absence of mental illness.

Mental illness is described as 'the spectrum of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral conditions that interfere with social and emotional well-being and the lives and productivity of people. Having a mental illness can seriously impair, temporarily or permanently, the mental functioning of a person. Other terms include: 'mental health problem', 'illness', 'disorder', 'dysfunction'.

Roughly one fifth of all adults 18 and over in the US are considered diagnosable with mental illness. Mental illnesses are the leading cause of disability in the US and Canada. Examples include, schizophrenia, ADHD, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and autism.

 Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:

  • Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry
  • Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse
  • Family history of mental health problems

Maintaining

Achieving and maintaining health is an ongoing process, shaped by both the evolution of health care knowledge and practices as well as personal strategies and organized interventions for staying healthy.

Diet

Percentage of overweight or obese population in 2010, Data source: OECD's iLibrary.
Percentage of obese population in 2010, Data source: OECD's iLibrary.

An important way to maintain your personal health is to have a healthy diet. A healthy diet includes a variety of plant-based and animal-based foods that provide nutrients to your body. Such nutrients give you energy and keep your body running. Nutrients help build and strengthen bones, muscles, and tendons and also regulate body processes (i.e. blood pressure). The food guide pyramid is a pyramid-shaped guide of healthy foods divided into sections. Each section shows the recommended intake for each food group (i.e. Protein, Fat, Carbohydrates, and Sugars). Making healthy food choices is important because it can lower your risk of heart disease, developing some types of cancer, and it will contribute to maintaining a healthy weight.

The Mediterranean diet is commonly associated with health-promoting effects due to the fact that it contains some bioactive compounds like phenolic compounds, isoprenoids and alkaloids.

Exercise

Physical exercise enhances or maintains physical fitness and overall health and wellness. It strengthens muscles and improves the cardiovascular system. According to the National Institutes of Health, there are four types of exercise: endurance, strength, flexibility, and balance.

Sleep

Sleep is an essential component to maintaining health. In children, sleep is also vital for growth and development. Ongoing sleep deprivation has been linked to an increased risk for some chronic health problems. In addition, sleep deprivation has been shown to correlate with both increased susceptibility to illness and slower recovery times from illness. In one study, people with chronic insufficient sleep, set as six hours of sleep a night or less, were found to be four times more likely to catch a cold compared to those who reported sleeping for seven hours or more a night. Due to the role of sleep in regulating metabolism, insufficient sleep may also play a role in weight gain or, conversely, in impeding weight loss. Additionally, in 2007, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is the cancer research agency for the World Health Organization, declared that "shiftwork that involves circadian disruption is probably carcinogenic to humans," speaking to the dangers of long-term nighttime work due to its intrusion on sleep. In 2015, the National Sleep Foundation released updated recommendations for sleep duration requirements based on age and concluded that "Individuals who habitually sleep outside the normal range may be exhibiting signs or symptoms of serious health problems or, if done volitionally, may be compromising their health and well-being."

Age and condition Sleep Needs
Newborns (0?3 months) 14 to 17 hours
Infants (4?11 months) 12 to 15 hours
Toddlers (1?2 years) 11 to 14 hours
Preschoolers (3?5 years) 10 to 13 hours
School-age children (6?13 years)       9 to 11 hours
Teenagers (14?17 years)   8 to 10 hours
Adults (18?64 years)   7 to 9 hours
Older Adults (65 years and over)   7 to 8 hours

Role of science

The Dutch Public Health Service provides medical care for the natives of the Dutch East Indies, May 1946

Health science is the branch of science focused on health. There are two main approaches to health science: the study and research of the body and health-related issues to understand how humans (and animals) function, and the application of that knowledge to improve health and to prevent and cure diseases and other physical and mental impairments. The science builds on many sub-fields, including biology, biochemistry, physics, epidemiology, pharmacology, medical sociology. Applied health sciences endeavor to better understand and improve human health through applications in areas such as health education, biomedical engineering, biotechnology and public health.

Organized interventions to improve health based on the principles and procedures developed through the health sciences are provided by practitioners trained in medicine, nursing, nutrition, pharmacy, social work, psychology, occupational therapy, physical therapy and other health care professions. Clinical practitioners focus mainly on the health of individuals, while public health practitioners consider the overall health of communities and populations. Workplace wellness programs are increasingly adopted by companies for their value in improving the health and well-being of their employees, as are school health services in order to improve the health and well-being of children.

Role of public health

Postage stamp, New Zealand, 1933. Public health has been promoted ? and depicted ? in a wide variety of ways.

Public health has been described as "the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through the organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations, public and private, communities and individuals." It is concerned with threats to the overall health of a community based on population health analysis. The population in question can be as small as a handful of people or as large as all the inhabitants of several continents (for instance, in the case of a pandemic). Public health has many sub-fields, but typically includes the interdisciplinary categories of epidemiology, biostatistics and health services. Environmental health, community health, behavioral health, and occupational health are also important areas of public health.

The focus of public health interventions is to prevent and manage diseases, injuries and other health conditions through surveillance of cases and the promotion of healthy behavior, communities, and (in aspects relevant to human health) environments. Its aim is to prevent health problems from happening or re-occurring by implementing educational programs, developing policies, administering services and conducting research. In many cases, treating a disease or controlling a pathogen can be vital to preventing it in others, such as during an outbreak. Vaccination programs and distribution of condoms to prevent the spread of communicable diseases are examples of common preventive public health measures, as are educational campaigns to promote vaccination and the use of condoms (including overcoming resistance to such).

Public health also takes various actions to limit the health disparities between different areas of the country and, in some cases, the continent or world. One issue is the access of individuals and communities to health care in terms of financial, geographical or socio-cultural constraints. Applications of the public health system include the areas of maternal and child health, health services administration, emergency response, and prevention and control of infectious and chronic diseases.

The great positive impact of public health programs is widely acknowledged. Due in part to the policies and actions developed through public health, the 20th century registered a decrease in the mortality rates for infants and children and a continual increase in life expectancy in most parts of the world. For example, it is estimated that life expectancy has increased for Americans by thirty years since 1900, and worldwide by six years since 1990.

Self-care strategies

A lady washing her hands c. 1655

Personal health depends partially on the active, passive, and assisted cues people observe and adopt about their own health. These include personal actions for preventing or minimizing the effects of a disease, usually a chronic condition, through integrative care. They also include personal hygiene practices to prevent infection and illness, such as bathing and washing hands with soap; brushing and flossing teeth; storing, preparing and handling food safely; and many others. The information gleaned from personal observations of daily living ? such as about sleep patterns, exercise behavior, nutritional intake and environmental features ? may be used to inform personal decisions and actions (e.g., "I feel tired in the morning so I am going to try sleeping on a different pillow"), as well as clinical decisions and treatment plans (e.g., a patient who notices his or her shoes are tighter than usual may be having exacerbation of left-sided heart failure, and may require diuretic medication to reduce fluid overload).

Personal health also depends partially on the social structure of a person's life. The maintenance of strong social relationships, volunteering, and other social activities have been linked to positive mental health and also increased longevity. One American study among seniors over age 70, found that frequent volunteering was associated with reduced risk of dying compared with older persons who did not volunteer, regardless of physical health status. Another study from Singapore reported that volunteering retirees had significantly better cognitive performance scores, fewer depressive symptoms, and better mental well-being and life satisfaction than non-volunteering retirees.

Prolonged psychological stress may negatively impact health, and has been cited as a factor in cognitive impairment with aging, depressive illness, and expression of disease. Stress management is the application of methods to either reduce stress or increase tolerance to stress. Relaxation techniques are physical methods used to relieve stress. Psychological methods include cognitive therapy, meditation, and positive thinking, which work by reducing response to stress. Improving relevant skills, such as problem solving and time management skills, reduces uncertainty and builds confidence, which also reduces the reaction to stress-causing situations where those skills are applicable.

Occupational

In addition to safety risks, many jobs also present risks of disease, illness and other long-term health problems. Among the most common occupational diseases are various forms of pneumoconiosis, including silicosis and coal worker's pneumoconiosis (black lung disease). Asthma is another respiratory illness that many workers are vulnerable to. Workers may also be vulnerable to skin diseases, including eczema, dermatitis, urticaria, sunburn, and skin cancer. Other occupational diseases of concern include carpal tunnel syndrome and lead poisoning.

As the number of service sector jobs has risen in developed countries, more and more jobs have become sedentary, presenting a different array of health problems than those associated with manufacturing and the primary sector. Contemporary problems, such as the growing rate of obesity and issues relating to stress and overwork in many countries, have further complicated the interaction between work and health.

Many governments view occupational health as a social challenge and have formed public organizations to ensure the health and safety of workers. Examples of these include the British Health and Safety Executive and in the United States, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which conducts research on occupational health and safety, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which handles regulation and policy relating to worker safety and health.

See also

References

External links

DEFAULTSORT



The following content uses material from the Wikipedia article which can be viewed, along with the content contribution references and acknowledgements, at: Medicine, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0. Please note that the GNU Free Documentation License may also exist on some text material. Images may not fall under either of the aforementioned licences and particular attention needs to be made when considering to use images or other media files. For full reuse and copyright policy details, please refer to: Wikipedia content reuse copyright information.

Medicine is the science and practice of establishing the diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. Medicine encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness. Contemporary medicine applies biomedical sciences, biomedical research, genetics, and medical technology to diagnose, treat, and prevent injury and disease, typically through pharmaceuticals or surgery, but also through therapies as diverse as psychotherapy, external splints and traction, medical devices, biologics, and ionizing radiation, amongst others.

Medicine has been around for thousands of years, during most of which it was an art (an area of skill and knowledge) frequently having connections to the religious and philosophical beliefs of local culture. For example, a medicine man would apply herbs and say prayers for healing, or an ancient philosopher and physician would apply bloodletting according to the theories of humorism. In recent centuries, since the advent of modern science, most medicine has become a combination of art and science (both basic and applied, under the umbrella of medical science). While stitching technique for sutures is an art learned through practice, the knowledge of what happens at the cellular and molecular level in the tissues being stitched arises through science.

Prescientific forms of medicine are now known as traditional medicine and folk medicine, though they do not fall within the modern definition of ?medicine? which is based in medical science. Traditional medicine and folk medicine remain commonly used with, or instead of, scientific medicine and are thus called alternative medicine (meaning ?[something] other than medicine?, from Latin alter, ?other?). For example, evidence on the effectiveness of acupuncture is "variable and inconsistent" for any condition, but is generally safe when done by an appropriately trained practitioner. In contrast, alternative treatments outside the bounds not just of scientific medicine, but also outside the bounds of safety and efficacy are termed quackery. Quackery can encompass an array of practices and practitioners, irrespective of whether they are prescientific (traditional medicine and folk medicine) or modern pseudo-scientific, including chiropractic which rejects modern scientific germ theory of disease (instead believing without evidence that human diseases are caused by invisible subluxation of the bones, predominately of the spine and less so of other bones), with just over half of chiropractors also rejecting the science of immunization.

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Etymology

Medicine ( ) is the science and practice of the diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. The word "medicine" is derived from Latin medicus, meaning "a physician".

Clinical practice

The Doctor by Sir Luke Fildes (1891)

Medical availability and clinical practice varies across the world due to regional differences in culture and technology. Modern scientific medicine is highly developed in the Western world, while in developing countries such as parts of Africa or Asia, the population may rely more heavily on traditional medicine with limited evidence and efficacy and no required formal training for practitioners. In the developed world, evidence-based medicine is not universally used in clinical practice; for example, a 2007 survey of literature reviews found that about 49% of the interventions lacked sufficient evidence to support either benefit or harm.

In modern clinical practice, physicians personally assess patients in order to diagnose, prognose, treat, and prevent disease using clinical judgment. The doctor-patient relationship typically begins an interaction with an examination of the patient's medical history and medical record, followed by a medical interview and a physical examination. Basic diagnostic medical devices (e.g. stethoscope, tongue depressor) are typically used. After examination for signs and interviewing for symptoms, the doctor may order medical tests (e.g. blood tests), take a biopsy, or prescribe pharmaceutical drugs or other therapies. Differential diagnosis methods help to rule out conditions based on the information provided. During the encounter, properly informing the patient of all relevant facts is an important part of the relationship and the development of trust. The medical encounter is then documented in the medical record, which is a legal document in many jurisdictions. Follow-ups may be shorter but follow the same general procedure, and specialists follow a similar process. The diagnosis and treatment may take only a few minutes or a few weeks depending upon the complexity of the issue.

The components of the medical interview and encounter are:

  • Chief complaint (CC): the reason for the current medical visit. These are the 'symptoms.' They are in the patient's own words and are recorded along with the duration of each one. Also called 'chief concern' or 'presenting complaint'.
  • History of present illness (HPI): the chronological order of events of symptoms and further clarification of each symptom. Distinguishable from history of previous illness, often called past medical history (PMH). Medical history comprises HPI and PMH.
  • Current activity: occupation, hobbies, what the patient actually does.
  • Medications (Rx): what drugs the patient takes including prescribed, over-the-counter, and home remedies, as well as alternative and herbal medicines/herbal remedies. Allergies are also recorded.
  • Past medical history (PMH/PMHx): concurrent medical problems, past hospitalizations and operations, injuries, past infectious diseases or vaccinations, history of known allergies.
  • Social history (SH): birthplace, residences, marital history, social and economic status, habits (including diet, medications, tobacco, alcohol).
  • Family history (FH): listing of diseases in the family that may impact the patient. A family tree is sometimes used.
  • Review of systems (ROS) or systems inquiry: a set of additional questions to ask, which may be missed on HPI: a general enquiry (have you noticed any weight loss, change in sleep quality, fevers, lumps and bumps? etc.), followed by questions on the body's main organ systems (heart, lungs, digestive tract, urinary tract, etc.).

The physical examination is the examination of the patient for medical signs of disease, which are objective and observable, in contrast to symptoms which are volunteered by the patient and not necessarily objectively observable. The healthcare provider uses the senses of sight, hearing, touch, and sometimes smell (e.g., in infection, uremia, diabetic ketoacidosis). Four actions are the basis of physical examination: inspection, palpation (feel), percussion (tap to determine resonance characteristics), and auscultation (listen), generally in that order although auscultation occurs prior to percussion and palpation for abdominal assessments.

The clinical examination involves the study of:

It is to likely focus on areas of interest highlighted in the medical history and may not include everything listed above.

The treatment plan may include ordering additional medical laboratory tests and medical imaging studies, starting therapy, referral to a specialist, or watchful observation. Follow-up may be advised. Depending upon the health insurance plan and the managed care system, various forms of "utilization review", such as prior authorization of tests, may place barriers on accessing expensive services.

The medical decision-making (MDM) process involves analysis and synthesis of all the above data to come up with a list of possible diagnoses (the differential diagnoses), along with an idea of what needs to be done to obtain a definitive diagnosis that would explain the patient's problem.

On subsequent visits, the process may be repeated in an abbreviated manner to obtain any new history, symptoms, physical findings, and lab or imaging results or specialist consultations.

Institutions

The Hospital of Santa Maria della Scala, fresco by Domenico di Bartolo, 1441?1442

Contemporary medicine is in general conducted within health care systems. Legal, credentialing and financing frameworks are established by individual governments, augmented on occasion by international organizations, such as churches. The characteristics of any given health care system have significant impact on the way medical care is provided.

From ancient times, Christian emphasis on practical charity gave rise to the development of systematic nursing and hospitals and the Catholic Church today remains the largest non-government provider of medical services in the world. Advanced industrial countries (with the exception of the United States) and many developing countries provide medical services through a system of universal health care that aims to guarantee care for all through a single-payer health care system, or compulsory private or co-operative health insurance. This is intended to ensure that the entire population has access to medical care on the basis of need rather than ability to pay. Delivery may be via private medical practices or by state-owned hospitals and clinics, or by charities, most commonly by a combination of all three.

Most tribal societies provide no guarantee of healthcare for the population as a whole. In such societies, healthcare is available to those that can afford to pay for it or have self-insured it (either directly or as part of an employment contract) or who may be covered by care financed by the government or tribe directly.

Modern drug ampoules

Transparency of information is another factor defining a delivery system. Access to information on conditions, treatments, quality, and pricing greatly affects the choice by patients/consumers and, therefore, the incentives of medical professionals. While the US healthcare system has come under fire for lack of openness, new legislation may encourage greater openness. There is a perceived tension between the need for transparency on the one hand and such issues as patient confidentiality and the possible exploitation of information for commercial gain on the other.

Delivery

Provision of medical care is classified into primary, secondary, and tertiary care categories.

upright

Primary care medical services are provided by physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, or other health professionals who have first contact with a patient seeking medical treatment or care. These occur in physician offices, clinics, nursing homes, schools, home visits, and other places close to patients. About 90% of medical visits can be treated by the primary care provider. These include treatment of acute and chronic illnesses, preventive care and health education for all ages and both sexes.

Secondary care medical services are provided by medical specialists in their offices or clinics or at local community hospitals for a patient referred by a primary care provider who first diagnosed or treated the patient. Referrals are made for those patients who required the expertise or procedures performed by specialists. These include both ambulatory care and inpatient services, Emergency departments, intensive care medicine, surgery services, physical therapy, labor and delivery, endoscopy units, diagnostic laboratory and medical imaging services, hospice centers, etc. Some primary care providers may also take care of hospitalized patients and deliver babies in a secondary care setting.

Tertiary care medical services are provided by specialist hospitals or regional centers equipped with diagnostic and treatment facilities not generally available at local hospitals. These include trauma centers, burn treatment centers, advanced neonatology unit services, organ transplants, high-risk pregnancy, radiation oncology, etc.

Modern medical care also depends on information ? still delivered in many health care settings on paper records, but increasingly nowadays by electronic means.

In low-income countries, modern healthcare is often too expensive for the average person. International healthcare policy researchers have advocated that "user fees" be removed in these areas to ensure access, although even after removal, significant costs and barriers remain.

Separation of prescribing and dispensing is a practice in medicine and pharmacy in which the physician who provides a medical prescription is independent from the pharmacist who provides the prescription drug. In the Western world there are centuries of tradition for separating pharmacists from physicians. In Asian countries it is traditional for physicians to also provide drugs.

Branches

February 1918 drawing by Marguerite Martyn of a visiting nurse in St. Louis, Missouri, with medicine and babies

Working together as an interdisciplinary team, many highly trained health professionals besides medical practitioners are involved in the delivery of modern health care. Examples include: nurses, emergency medical technicians and paramedics, laboratory scientists, pharmacists, podiatrists, physiotherapists, respiratory therapists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, radiographers, dietitians, and bioengineers, surgeons, surgeon's assistant, surgical technologist.

The scope and sciences underpinning human medicine overlap many other fields. Dentistry, while considered by some a separate discipline from medicine, is a medical field.

A patient admitted to the hospital is usually under the care of a specific team based on their main presenting problem, e.g., the cardiology team, who then may interact with other specialties, e.g., surgical, radiology, to help diagnose or treat the main problem or any subsequent complications/developments.

Physicians have many specializations and subspecializations into certain branches of medicine, which are listed below. There are variations from country to country regarding which specialties certain subspecialties are in.

The main branches of medicine are:

Basic sciences

  • Anatomy is the study of the physical structure of organisms. In contrast to macroscopic or gross anatomy, cytology and histology are concerned with microscopic structures.
  • Biochemistry is the study of the chemistry taking place in living organisms, especially the structure and function of their chemical components.
  • Biomechanics is the study of the structure and function of biological systems by means of the methods of Mechanics.
  • Biostatistics is the application of statistics to biological fields in the broadest sense. A knowledge of biostatistics is essential in the planning, evaluation, and interpretation of medical research. It is also fundamental to epidemiology and evidence-based medicine.
  • Biophysics is an interdisciplinary science that uses the methods of physics and physical chemistry to study biological systems.
  • Cytology is the microscopic study of individual cells.
Louis Pasteur, as portrayed in his laboratory, 1885 by Albert Edelfelt

Specialties

In the broadest meaning of "medicine", there are many different specialties. In the UK, most specialities have their own body or college, which have its own entrance examination. These are collectively known as the Royal Colleges, although not all currently use the term "Royal". The development of a speciality is often driven by new technology (such as the development of effective anaesthetics) or ways of working (such as emergency departments); the new specialty leads to the formation of a unifying body of doctors and the prestige of administering their own examination.

Within medical circles, specialities usually fit into one of two broad categories: "Medicine" and "Surgery." "Medicine" refers to the practice of non-operative medicine, and most of its subspecialties require preliminary training in Internal Medicine. In the UK, this was traditionally evidenced by passing the examination for the Membership of the Royal College of Physicians (MRCP) or the equivalent college in Scotland or Ireland. "Surgery" refers to the practice of operative medicine, and most subspecialties in this area require preliminary training in General Surgery, which in the UK leads to membership of the Royal College of Surgeons of England (MRCS). At present, some specialties of medicine do not fit easily into either of these categories, such as radiology, pathology, or anesthesia. Most of these have branched from one or other of the two camps above; for example anaesthesia developed first as a faculty of the Royal College of Surgeons (for which MRCS/FRCS would have been required) before becoming the Royal College of Anaesthetists and membership of the college is attained by sitting for the examination of the Fellowship of the Royal College of Anesthetists (FRCA).

Surgical specialty

Surgeons in an operating room

Surgery is an ancient medical specialty that uses operative manual and instrumental techniques on a patient to investigate or treat a pathological condition such as disease or injury, to help improve bodily function or appearance or to repair unwanted ruptured areas (for example, a perforated ear drum). Surgeons must also manage pre-operative, post-operative, and potential surgical candidates on the hospital wards. Surgery has many sub-specialties, including general surgery, ophthalmic surgery, cardiovascular surgery, colorectal surgery, neurosurgery, oral and maxillofacial surgery, oncologic surgery, orthopedic surgery, otolaryngology, plastic surgery, podiatric surgery, transplant surgery, trauma surgery, urology, vascular surgery, and pediatric surgery. In some centers, anesthesiology is part of the division of surgery (for historical and logistical reasons), although it is not a surgical discipline. Other medical specialties may employ surgical procedures, such as ophthalmology and dermatology, but are not considered surgical sub-specialties per se.

Surgical training in the U.S. requires a minimum of five years of residency after medical school. Sub-specialties of surgery often require seven or more years. In addition, fellowships can last an additional one to three years. Because post-residency fellowships can be competitive, many trainees devote two additional years to research. Thus in some cases surgical training will not finish until more than a decade after medical school. Furthermore, surgical training can be very difficult and time-consuming.

Internal specialty

Internal medicine is the medical specialty dealing with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of adult diseases. According to some sources, an emphasis on internal structures is implied. In North America, specialists in internal medicine are commonly called "internists." Elsewhere, especially in Commonwealth nations, such specialists are often called physicians. These terms, internist or physician (in the narrow sense, common outside North America), generally exclude practitioners of gynecology and obstetrics, pathology, psychiatry, and especially surgery and its subspecialities.

Because their patients are often seriously ill or require complex investigations, internists do much of their work in hospitals. Formerly, many internists were not subspecialized; such general physicians would see any complex nonsurgical problem; this style of practice has become much less common. In modern urban practice, most internists are subspecialists: that is, they generally limit their medical practice to problems of one organ system or to one particular area of medical knowledge. For example, gastroenterologists and nephrologists specialize respectively in diseases of the gut and the kidneys.

In the Commonwealth of Nations and some other countries, specialist pediatricians and geriatricians are also described as specialist physicians (or internists) who have subspecialized by age of patient rather than by organ system. Elsewhere, especially in North America, general pediatrics is often a form of primary care.

There are many subspecialities (or subdisciplines) of internal medicine:

Training in internal medicine (as opposed to surgical training), varies considerably across the world: see the articles on medical education and physician for more details. In North America, it requires at least three years of residency training after medical school, which can then be followed by a one- to three-year fellowship in the subspecialties listed above. In general, resident work hours in medicine are less than those in surgery, averaging about 60 hours per week in the US. This difference does not apply in the UK where all doctors are now required by law to work less than 48 hours per week on average.

Diagnostic specialties

Other major specialties

The following are some major medical specialties that do not directly fit into any of the above-mentioned groups:

  • Anesthesiology (also known as anaesthetics): concerned with the perioperative management of the surgical patient. The anesthesiologist's role during surgery is to prevent derangement in the vital organs' (i.e. brain, heart, kidneys) functions and postoperative pain. Outside of the operating room, the anesthesiology physician also serves the same function in the labor and delivery ward, and some are specialized in critical medicine.
  • Dermatology is concerned with the skin and its diseases. In the UK, dermatology is a subspecialty of general medicine.
  • Emergency medicine is concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of acute or life-threatening conditions, including trauma, surgical, medical, pediatric, and psychiatric emergencies.
  • Family medicine, family practice, general practice or primary care is, in many countries, the first port-of-call for patients with non-emergency medical problems. Family physicians often provide services across a broad range of settings including office based practices, emergency department coverage, inpatient care, and nursing home care.

  • Obstetrics and gynecology (often abbreviated as OB/GYN (American English) or Obs & Gynae (British English)) are concerned respectively with childbirth and the female reproductive and associated organs. Reproductive medicine and fertility medicine are generally practiced by gynecological specialists.
  • Medical genetics is concerned with the diagnosis and management of hereditary disorders.
  • Neurology is concerned with diseases of the nervous system. In the UK, neurology is a subspecialty of general medicine.
  • Ophthalmology is exclusively concerned with the eye and ocular adnexa, combining conservative and surgical therapy.
  • Pediatrics (AE) or paediatrics (BE) is devoted to the care of infants, children, and adolescents. Like internal medicine, there are many pediatric subspecialties for specific age ranges, organ systems, disease classes, and sites of care delivery.
  • Pharmaceutical medicine is the medical scientific discipline concerned with the discovery, development, evaluation, registration, monitoring and medical aspects of marketing of medicines for the benefit of patients and public health.
  • Physical medicine and rehabilitation (or physiatry) is concerned with functional improvement after injury, illness, or congenital disorders.
  • Podiatric medicine is the study of, diagnosis, and medical & surgical treatment of disorders of the foot, ankle, lower limb, hip and lower back.
  • Psychiatry is the branch of medicine concerned with the bio-psycho-social study of the etiology, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of cognitive, perceptual, emotional and behavioral disorders. Related non-medical fields include psychotherapy and clinical psychology.
  • Preventive medicine is the branch of medicine concerned with preventing disease.

Interdisciplinary fields

Some interdisciplinary sub-specialties of medicine include:

Education and legal controls

Medical students learning about stitches

Medical education and training varies around the world. It typically involves entry level education at a university medical school, followed by a period of supervised practice or internship, or residency. This can be followed by postgraduate vocational training. A variety of teaching methods have been employed in medical education, still itself a focus of active research. In Canada and the United States of America, a Doctor of Medicine degree, often abbreviated M.D., or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree, often abbreviated as D.O. and unique to the United States, must be completed in and delivered from a recognized university.

Since knowledge, techniques, and medical technology continue to evolve at a rapid rate, many regulatory authorities require continuing medical education. Medical practitioners upgrade their knowledge in various ways, including medical journals, seminars, conferences, and online programs. A database of objectives covering medical knowledge, as suggested by national societies across the United States, can be searched at http://data.medobjectives.marian.edu/.

Headquarters of the Organización Médica Colegial de España, which regulates the medical profession in Spain

In most countries, it is a legal requirement for a medical doctor to be licensed or registered. In general, this entails a medical degree from a university and accreditation by a medical board or an equivalent national organization, which may ask the applicant to pass exams. This restricts the considerable legal authority of the medical profession to physicians that are trained and qualified by national standards. It is also intended as an assurance to patients and as a safeguard against charlatans that practice inadequate medicine for personal gain. While the laws generally require medical doctors to be trained in "evidence based", Western, or Hippocratic Medicine, they are not intended to discourage different paradigms of health.

In the European Union, the profession of doctor of medicine is regulated. A profession is said to be regulated when access and exercise is subject to the possession of a specific professional qualification. The regulated professions database contains a list of regulated professions for doctor of medicine in the EU member states, EEA countries and Switzerland. This list is covered by the Directive 2005/36/EC.

Doctors who are negligent or intentionally harmful in their care of patients can face charges of medical malpractice and be subject to civil, criminal, or professional sanctions.

Medical ethics

A 12th-century Byzantine manuscript of the Hippocratic Oath

Medical ethics is a system of moral principles that apply values and judgments to the practice of medicine. As a scholarly discipline, medical ethics encompasses its practical application in clinical settings as well as work on its history, philosophy, theology, and sociology. Six of the values that commonly apply to medical ethics discussions are:

  • autonomy ? the patient has the right to refuse or choose their treatment. (Voluntas aegroti suprema lex.)
  • beneficence ? a practitioner should act in the best interest of the patient. (Salus aegroti suprema lex.)
  • justice ? concerns the distribution of scarce health resources, and the decision of who gets what treatment (fairness and equality).
  • non-maleficence ? "first, do no harm" (primum non-nocere).
  • respect for persons ? the patient (and the person treating the patient) have the right to be treated with dignity.
  • truthfulness and honesty ? the concept of informed consent has increased in importance since the historical events of the Doctors' Trial of the Nuremberg trials, Tuskegee syphilis experiment, and others.

Values such as these do not give answers as to how to handle a particular situation, but provide a useful framework for understanding conflicts. When moral values are in conflict, the result may be an ethical dilemma or crisis. Sometimes, no good solution to a dilemma in medical ethics exists, and occasionally, the values of the medical community (i.e., the hospital and its staff) conflict with the values of the individual patient, family, or larger non-medical community. Conflicts can also arise between health care providers, or among family members. For example, some argue that the principles of autonomy and beneficence clash when patients refuse blood transfusions, considering them life-saving; and truth-telling was not emphasized to a large extent before the HIV era.

History

Statuette of ancient Egyptian physician Imhotep, the first physician from antiquity known by name.

Ancient world

Prehistoric medicine incorporated plants (herbalism), animal parts, and minerals. In many cases these materials were used ritually as magical substances by priests, shamans, or medicine men. Well-known spiritual systems include animism (the notion of inanimate objects having spirits), spiritualism (an appeal to gods or communion with ancestor spirits); shamanism (the vesting of an individual with mystic powers); and divination (magically obtaining the truth). The field of medical anthropology examines the ways in which culture and society are organized around or impacted by issues of health, health care and related issues.

Early records on medicine have been discovered from ancient Egyptian medicine, Babylonian Medicine, Ayurvedic medicine (in the Indian subcontinent), classical Chinese medicine (predecessor to the modern traditional Chinese medicine), and ancient Greek medicine and Roman medicine.

In Egypt, Imhotep (3rd millennium BCE) is the first physician in history known by name. The oldest Egyptian medical text is the Kahun Gynaecological Papyrus from around 2000 BCE, which describes gynaecological diseases. The Edwin Smith Papyrus dating back to 1600 BCE is an early work on surgery, while the Ebers Papyrus dating back to 1500 BCE is akin to a textbook on medicine.

In China, archaeological evidence of medicine in Chinese dates back to the Bronze Age Shang Dynasty, based on seeds for herbalism and tools presumed to have been used for surgery. The Huangdi Neijing, the progenitor of Chinese medicine, is a medical text written beginning in the 2nd century BCE and compiled in the 3rd century.

In India, the surgeon Sushruta described numerous surgical operations, including the earliest forms of plastic surgery. Earliest records of dedicated hospitals come from Mihintale in Sri Lanka where evidence of dedicated medicinal treatment facilities for patients are found.

In Greece, the Greek physician Hippocrates, the "father of modern medicine", laid the foundation for a rational approach to medicine. Hippocrates introduced the Hippocratic Oath for physicians, which is still relevant and in use today, and was the first to categorize illnesses as acute, chronic, endemic and epidemic, and use terms such as, "exacerbation, relapse, resolution, crisis, paroxysm, peak, and convalescence". The Greek physician Galen was also one of the greatest surgeons of the ancient world and performed many audacious operations, including brain and eye surgeries. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the onset of the Early Middle Ages, the Greek tradition of medicine went into decline in Western Europe, although it continued uninterrupted in the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire.

Most of our knowledge of ancient Hebrew medicine during the 1st millennium BC comes from the Torah, i.e. the Five Books of Moses, which contain various health related laws and rituals. The Hebrew contribution to the development of modern medicine started in the Byzantine Era, with the physician Asaph the Jew.

Middle Ages

A manuscript of Al-Risalah al-Dhahabiah by Ali al-Ridha, the eighth Imam of Shia Muslims. The text says: "Golden dissertation in medicine which is sent by Imam Ali ibn Musa al-Ridha, peace be upon him, to al-Ma'mun."

The concept of hospital as institution to offer medical care and possibility of a cure for the patients due to the ideals of Christian charity, rather than just merely a place to die, appeared in the Byzantine Empire.

Although the concept of uroscopy was known to Galen, he did not see the importance of using it to localize the disease. It was under the Byzantines with physicians such of Theophilus Protospatharius that they realized the potential in uroscopy to determine disease in a time when no microscope or stethoscope existed. That practice eventually spread to the rest of Europe.

After 750 CE, the Muslim world had the works of Hippocrates, Galen and Sushruta translated into Arabic, and Islamic physicians engaged in some significant medical research. Notable Islamic medical pioneers include the Persian polymath, Avicenna, who, along with Imhotep and Hippocrates, has also been called the "father of medicine". He wrote The Canon of Medicine which became a standard medical text at many medieval European universities, considered one of the most famous books in the history of medicine. Others include Abulcasis, Avenzoar, Ibn al-Nafis, and Averroes. Persian physician Rhazes was one of the first to question the Greek theory of humorism, which nevertheless remained influential in both medieval Western and medieval Islamic medicine. Some volumes of Rhazes's work Al-Mansuri, namely "On Surgery" and "A General Book on Therapy", became part of the medical curriculum in European universities. Additionally, he has been described as a doctor's doctor, the father of pediatrics, and a pioneer of ophthalmology. For example, he was the first to recognize the reaction of the eye's pupil to light. Al-Risalah al-Dhahabiah by Ali al-Ridha, the eighth Imam of Shia Muslims, is revered as the most precious Islamic literature in the Science of Medicine. The Persian Bimaristan hospitals were an early example of public hospitals.

In Europe, Charlemagne decreed that a hospital should be attached to each cathedral and monastery and the historian Geoffrey Blainey likened the activities of the Catholic Church in health care during the Middle Ages to an early version of a welfare state: "It conducted hospitals for the old and orphanages for the young; hospices for the sick of all ages; places for the lepers; and hostels or inns where pilgrims could buy a cheap bed and meal". It supplied food to the population during famine and distributed food to the poor. This welfare system the church funded through collecting taxes on a large scale and possessing large farmlands and estates. The Benedictine order was noted for setting up hospitals and infirmaries in their monasteries, growing medical herbs and becoming the chief medical care givers of their districts, as at the great Abbey of Cluny. The Church also established a network of cathedral schools and universities where medicine was studied. The Schola Medica Salernitana in Salerno, looking to the learning of Greek and Arab physicians, grew to be the finest medical school in Medieval Europe.

Panorama of Siena's Santa Maria della Scala Hospital, one of Europe's oldest hospitals. During the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church established universities which revived the study of sciences ? drawing on the learning of Greek and Arab physicians in the study of medicine.

However, the fourteenth and fifteenth century Black Death devastated both the Middle East and Europe, and it has even been argued that Western Europe was generally more effective in recovering from the pandemic than the Middle East. In the early modern period, important early figures in medicine and anatomy emerged in Europe, including Gabriele Falloppio and William Harvey.

The major shift in medical thinking was the gradual rejection, especially during the Black Death in the 14th and 15th centuries, of what may be called the 'traditional authority' approach to science and medicine. This was the notion that because some prominent person in the past said something must be so, then that was the way it was, and anything one observed to the contrary was an anomaly (which was paralleled by a similar shift in European society in general ? see Copernicus's rejection of Ptolemy's theories on astronomy). Physicians like Vesalius improved upon or disproved some of the theories from the past. The main tomes used both by medicine students and expert physicians were Materia Medica and Pharmacopoeia.

Andreas Vesalius was the author of De humani corporis fabrica, an important book on human anatomy. Bacteria and microorganisms were first observed with a microscope by Antonie van Leeuwenhoek in 1676, initiating the scientific field microbiology. Independently from Ibn al-Nafis, Michael Servetus rediscovered the pulmonary circulation, but this discovery did not reach the public because it was written down for the first time in the "Manuscript of Paris" in 1546, and later published in the theological work for which he paid with his life in 1553. Later this was described by Renaldus Columbus and Andrea Cesalpino. Herman Boerhaave is sometimes referred to as a "father of physiology" due to his exemplary teaching in Leiden and textbook 'Institutiones medicae' (1708). Pierre Fauchard has been called "the father of modern dentistry".

Modern

Paul-Louis Simond injecting a plague vaccine in Karachi, 1898

Veterinary medicine was, for the first time, truly separated from human medicine in 1761, when the French veterinarian Claude Bourgelat founded the world's first veterinary school in Lyon, France. Before this, medical doctors treated both humans and other animals.

Modern scientific biomedical research (where results are testable and reproducible) began to replace early Western traditions based on herbalism, the Greek "four humours" and other such pre-modern notions. The modern era really began with Edward Jenner's discovery of the smallpox vaccine at the end of the 18th century (inspired by the method of inoculation earlier practiced in Asia), Robert Koch's discoveries around 1880 of the transmission of disease by bacteria, and then the discovery of antibiotics around 1900.

The post-18th century modernity period brought more groundbreaking researchers from Europe. From Germany and Austria, doctors Rudolf Virchow, Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, Karl Landsteiner and Otto Loewi made notable contributions. In the United Kingdom, Alexander Fleming, Joseph Lister, Francis Crick and Florence Nightingale are considered important. Spanish doctor Santiago Ramón y Cajal is considered the father of modern neuroscience.

From New Zealand and Australia came Maurice Wilkins, Howard Florey, and Frank Macfarlane Burnet.

Others that did significant work include William Williams Keen, William Coley, James D. Watson (United States); Salvador Luria (Italy); Alexandre Yersin (Switzerland); Kitasato Shibasabur? (Japan); Jean-Martin Charcot, Claude Bernard, Paul Broca (France); Adolfo Lutz (Brazil); Nikolai Korotkov (Russia); Sir William Osler (Canada); and Harvey Cushing (United States).

Alexander Fleming's discovery of penicillin in September 1928 marks the start of modern antibiotics.

As science and technology developed, medicine became more reliant upon medications. Throughout history and in Europe right until the late 18th century, not only animal and plant products were used as medicine, but also human body parts and fluids. Pharmacology developed in part from herbalism and some drugs are still derived from plants (atropine, ephedrine, warfarin, aspirin, digoxin, vinca alkaloids, taxol, hyoscine, etc.). Vaccines were discovered by Edward Jenner and Louis Pasteur.

The first antibiotic was arsphenamine (Salvarsan) discovered by Paul Ehrlich in 1908 after he observed that bacteria took up toxic dyes that human cells did not. The first major class of antibiotics was the sulfa drugs, derived by German chemists originally from azo dyes.

Pharmacology has become increasingly sophisticated; modern biotechnology allows drugs targeted towards specific physiological processes to be developed, sometimes designed for compatibility with the body to reduce side-effects. Genomics and knowledge of human genetics and human evolution is having increasingly significant influence on medicine, as the causative genes of most monogenic genetic disorders have now been identified, and the development of techniques in molecular biology, evolution, and genetics are influencing medical technology, practice and decision-making.

Evidence-based medicine is a contemporary movement to establish the most effective algorithms of practice (ways of doing things) through the use of systematic reviews and meta-analysis. The movement is facilitated by modern global information science, which allows as much of the available evidence as possible to be collected and analyzed according to standard protocols that are then disseminated to healthcare providers. The Cochrane Collaboration leads this movement. A 2001 review of 160 Cochrane systematic reviews revealed that, according to two readers, 21.3% of the reviews concluded insufficient evidence, 20% concluded evidence of no effect, and 22.5% concluded positive effect.

Quality, efficiency, and access

Evidence-based medicine, prevention of medical error (and other "iatrogenesis"), and avoidance of unnecessary health care are a priority in modern medical systems. These topics generate significant political and public policy attention, particularly in the United States where healthcare is regarded as excessively costly but population health metrics lag similar nations.

Globally, many developing countries lack access to care and access to medicines. As of 2015, most wealthy developed countries provide health care to all citizens, with a few exceptions such as the United States where lack of health insurance coverage may limit access.

Traditional medicine

Traditional medicine (also known as indigenous or folk medicine) comprises knowledge systems that developed over generations within various societies before the introduction of modern medicine. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines traditional medicine as "the sum total of the knowledge, skills, and practices based on the theories, beliefs, and experiences indigenous to different cultures, whether explicable or not, used in the maintenance of health as well as in the prevention, diagnosis, improvement or treatment of physical and mental illness."

In some Asian and African countries, up to 80% of the population relies on traditional medicine for their primary health care needs. When adopted outside of its traditional culture, traditional medicine is often called alternative medicine. Practices known as traditional medicines include Ayurveda, Siddha medicine, Unani, ancient Iranian medicine, Irani, Islamic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, traditional Korean medicine, acupuncture, Muti, Ifá, and traditional African medicine.

The WHO notes however that "inappropriate use of traditional medicines or practices can have negative or dangerous effects" and that "further research is needed to ascertain the efficacy and safety" of several of the practices and medicinal plants used by traditional medicine systems. The line between alternative medicine and quackery is a contentious subject.

Traditional medicine may include formalized aspects of folk medicine, that is to say longstanding remedies passed on and practised by lay people. Folk medicine consists of the healing practices and ideas of body physiology and health preservation known to some in a culture, transmitted informally as general knowledge, and practiced or applied by anyone in the culture having prior experience. Folk medicine may also be referred to as traditional medicine, alternative medicine, indigenous medicine, or natural medicine. These terms are often considered interchangeable, even though some authors may prefer one or the other because of certain overtones they may be willing to highlight. In fact, out of these terms perhaps only indigenous medicine and traditional medicine have the same meaning as folk medicine, while the others should be understood rather in a modern or modernized context.

See also

References

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Images

Name    Description    Inserted    Image   

Medicine  <a title="Louis Pasteur" href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Pasteur"><em><u><font color="#0066cc">Louis Pasteur</font></u></em></a>, as portrayed in his laboratory, 1885 by <a title="Albert Edelfelt" href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Edelfelt"><font color="#0066cc"><u>Albert Edelfelt</u></font></a><a title="Louis Pasteur" href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Pasteur"><em><u><font color="#0066cc">Louis Pasteur</font></u></em></a>, as portrayed in his laboratory, 1885 by <a title="Albert Edelfelt" href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Edelfelt"><u><font color="#0066cc">Albert Edelfelt</font></u></a><br>  Mon Jul 22 04:24:01 UTC 2019  
           



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